the ORIGIN OF Inside Music School

I completed my 40-year career at Berklee College of Music in the summer of 2010. First a faculty member, teaching harmony, ear training, and other core Berklee classes, I became Director of Admissions for over two decades. Later named Assistant Dean of Students, I finished my career at Berklee as Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, leading all admissions, financial aid, scholarships, and student employment efforts.

At that juncture, I hadn’t planned on consulting, but families were seeking advice about finding the right music institution for their college-bound kids. The demand grew, and word quickly got out about what I was providing. It became apparent that students and families benefited greatly from my services. So I established IMS, an independent collegiate consulting business, with unmatched expertise and diverse music professional network access.

Unlike many other advisors and even colleges, my time and orientation at Berklee taught me to be open-minded, nonjudgmental, and pivot with the times. Students today are far more technologically savvy than before, so my knowledge and advice must take that into consideration. Performers want to be producers; producers want to be songwriters. They want to do it all. Even classically-minded young musicians, as well as musical theater students are listening to every genre of music imaginable: hip-hop, K-pop, Lo-Fi, EDM, Latin, house, pop country, house, ambient, breakbeat, dub, electro/electroacoustic, the permutations go on and on.

Film composers such as Howard Shore, Hans Zimmer, and Alan Silvestri have become household names, and composing for video games has become a major part of the music industry. You can’t be stuck in the past while at the same time honoring music’s history and heritage.

—Steve Lipman


Four Areas of Musical Study

At first, I focused on students interested in contemporary music schools because that was Berklee’s focus during my tenure, and my natural area of expertise. I knew all of the other schools across the country, and internationally, with contemporary music programs, and the points of differentiation, strengths and shortcomings of each. Within a short amount of time, students interested in other performing arts disciplines began coming to me for advice. I found there are a lot of young people aiming to pursue a career in musical theater and other disciplines, and in consultation with my professional network, I identified the key criteria college programs in that arena look for in successful candidates for admission.

Today, Inside Music Schools helps students interested in four main areas of study:

  • Classical music (instrumental, vocal, composing)
  • Contemporary/popular music (performance, composing/songwriting, & more)

  • Musical theater

  • Music Technology (audio recording, production, engineering)
Since the launch of my music consulting business, I’ve worked with hundreds of students and their families. The success rate of Inside Music Schools is remarkably high: around 90% of the students we work with are accepted into their 1st or 2nd choice conservatory, college, or university. —SL


Blooming in the right environment

Every student aspiring to a music career deserves the chance to develop their talents and pursue their passion. Our experience at IMS has shown that some students are late bloomers. Once put into the right environment, there’s no accounting for a student’s motivation. Many students enter college with average raw musical talent but work so hard that they graduate at the top of the class as fantastic musicians on the brink of bright careers in music.

There’s an array of colleges teaching music, ranging from top music schools, to those in the middle tier, to others with lesser-known programs. Together, we can identify the right choice for every level, from beginner to advanced levels of proficiency.

Once we hear a student perform, with the help of specialized, renowned faculty members of the IMS network, we’ll pinpoint the musical abilities, skills, and knowledge each student needs to improve upon. With enough time together and hard work, we will put them in a position to be admitted to the school of their choice.


Specialized Knowledge

What sets IMS apart

High school guidance counselors rarely possess a deep understanding of higher education in the arts. They do a great job with college-bound students who want to pursue liberal arts, science, or business studies. But if a student is seriously interested in music, dance, acting, or musical theater, it’s a different story. It’s doubtful they will understand the student’s abilities, know which college programs might offer good options, and then match her with a school that can train that student properly for the career she wants.

The same challenge exists when working with a general college admissions advisor. Many independent college advisors know a lot about the Common Application, SATs, and essays. But they don’t possess the insight and experience to advise students and families when it comes to studying music in college. Inside Music Schools possesses deep, specialized knowledge in all aspects of music education and professional music career paths.

We at Inside Music Schools have worked in higher education for many years and as independent consultants for over a decade. We have developed a vast, unmatched network of university administrators, college faculty, private instructors, professional studio and touring musicians, musical theater performers, producers and studio engineers, and music business executives.

Leveraging this network on behalf of Inside Music Schools clients is a benefit not available anywhere else. For many parents, working with Inside Music Schools is like a secret weapon – the critical advantage that improves the chances of their son or daughter achieving their educational goals.

We approach each music student individually at Inside Music Schools. Consulting with a classical performer is very different from advising a contemporary pop or jazz performer and requires an entirely different approach and set of activities to prepare for admission. The same goes for musical theater students, who need to sing, dance, and act for their auditions as well as prepare a pre-screening video. Music production students must present a portfolio of their work for admissions consideration, and a composition student needs to share three or four pieces of music he has written. The headline here is that each student is unique, and each consulting program needs to be specifically tailored to match a student’s particular background, needs, and aspirations.


The music school admissions process is full of pitfalls. Choosing the wrong school can be a disappointment for the student and an expensive misstep for the family. At Inside Music Schools, we help get college-bound students moving decisively toward their future. —SL