Best Colleges for Cello Performance 2023

College application season is ramping up quickly and we here at Cello Central want to make sure that you know which colleges are the best for cello performance. Choosing the right cello college is an important step that can shape your career forever, so we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 best colleges for cello performance to you should apply to.


Applying to Music School

7f79ef92f29bf5b0f8750465ae32ac7c1-300x200 Best Colleges for Cello Performance 2023Before we get to the list, we wanted to first provide an overview of what you should expect when applying to music school for cello performance. There are two main parts to the application process, the online application and the audition. Generally, you will be required to submit an online application before you can even register for an audition. Increasingly, universities are requiring you to also submit a CD/DVD recording of you performing to make the pre-screening process smoother. Once you have submitted your application, you may sign up for an on-site audition. Obviously each university has different requirements, so make sure you check their website before you apply. has a great overview of the application and audition process. We highly recommend that you check them out!


Our Ranking Criteria

We looked at multiple ranking factors to determine our list of best cello colleges. These included: current cello faculty, strength of overall music program, and famous cello alumni.


The Best Cello Colleges

School Location Annual Tuition Notable Faculty Application
1.  New England Conservatory Boston. MA $44,300 Natasha Brofsky, Paul Katz Apply
2. Curtis Institute of Music Philadelphia, PA Full Scholarship Carter Brey, Peter Wiley Apply
3. Bard College-Conservatory of Music Annandale-On-Hudson, NY $47,560 Peter Wiley Apply
4. Manhattan School of Music New York, NY $44,100 Wolfram Koessel, Frederick Zlotkin, Alan Stepansky Apply
5. Rice University Shepherd School of Music Houston, TX $28,030 Norman Fischer, Desmond Hoebig, Brinton Averil Smith Apply
6. Juilliard School New York, NY $41,310 Richard Lee Aaron, Darrett Adkins Apply
7. Colburn School Los Angeles, CA $12,500 Francesca Bori, Jennifer Goss, Carey Beth Hockett Apply
8. Cleveland Institute of Music Cleveland, OH $49,106 Mark Kosower, Melissa Kraut, Sharon Robinson, Richard Weiss Apply
9. Indiana University Jacobs School of Music Bloomington, IN $12,459 Emilio Colon, Eric Kim, Peter Stumpf, Brandon Vamos Apply
10. Peabody Institute Baltimore, MD $44,122 Amit Peled, Alan Stepansky Apply

So where did famous cello players attend college?

You’ll notice that many of the famous cellists mentioned went to many of the universities above or their international equivalents. While attending a prestigious music performance college is no guarantee of success in the music industry, it certainly helps.

  • Yo-Yo Ma: Yo-Yo Ma studied cello initially at Julliard and Columbia, but later transferred to Harvard to complete his studies.
  • Pablo Casals: Pablo Casals studied composition at the Madrid Royal Conservatory in Madrid under Víctor Mirecki.
  • Julian Lloyd Webber: Julian Lloyd Webber completed his studies at the Royal College of Music in Geneva under a full scholarship with Pierre Fournier.
  • Paul Tortelier: Paul Tortelier studied at Conservatoire de Paris which he entered at age 12.
  • Arthur Russell: Arthur Russell studied North Indian classical music at the Ali Akbar College of Music and Western composition part-time at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music
  • Jacques Offenbach:  Jacques Offenbach also studied at the Conservatoire de Paris.
  • Pierre Fournier: Pierre Fournier graduated from the Conservatoire de Paris at the age of 17 in 1923.


Applying to music performance college is a stressful process, but when you receive that first acceptance offer, you will be thrilled. Just make sure that you put in the hard effort to make sure your application is the best and that you are well-prepared for the auditions. Best of luck!

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  1. This is slightly inaccurate. The list of faculty you have is wrong. For instance, Clive Greensmith is the one and only cello conservatory faculty member at Colburn. Also, some of your tuition lists are incorrect (Juilliard is at least $51,000 last time I checked). Additionally, as a cellist who knows quite a lot about the majority of these schools, I believe that there are some schools that should definitely not be on this list, and others that should be. Where is Northwestern and UMich, and USC?


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