Our History & Philosophy

A deep look into Inside Music School’s origins, and its founder.

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 a Vice President 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, that 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, house, ambient, breakbeat, dub, edm, electro/electroacoustic, the permutations go on and on.

Classical players admire new young performers with a modern presence like violinist Ray Chen, trumpeter Tine Thing Helseth, and violinist Nicola Benedetti, while musical theater kids are hooked on Lin-Manuel Miranda. 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.

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 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 music (performance, composing/songwriting, & more)
  • Musical theater
  • Music production and engineering

Since the launch of my music consulting business, I’ve worked with over 150 students and their families. The success rate at Inside Music Schools is remarkably high: around 90% of the students I work with are accepted into their 1st or 2nd choice conservatory, college, or university.

What to Expect...

Blooming in the right environment.

I feel every student aspiring to a music career deserves the chance to develop their talents and to pursue their passion. My experience has shown me that some students are late bloomers. There’s no accounting for the motivation of a student once he or she is put into the right environment. I saw many students come through Berklee who had average raw musical talent when they arrived, but who worked so hard that they graduated Berklee 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 might be called “Ivy League” music schools, to schools in the middle tier, to those with lesser-known programs. Together, we can identify the right choice for every level; from beginner to advanced levels of proficiency. Once I see and hear a student perform, with the help of specialized, renowned faculty who are part of the IMS network, I’ll precisely pinpoint the musical abilities, skills, and knowledge each student needs to improve on. 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...

As committed as they are and as hard as they work, high school guidance counselors rarely possess a deep understanding about higher education in the arts. The average counselor is great for kids who want to pursue studies in liberal arts, science, or business. But if a student is seriously interested in music, dance, acting, or musical theater, it’s highly unlikely that the average high school counselor will be able to understand her 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 common applications, SAT tests, and essays, but they almost certainly don’t possess the insight and experience to advise students and families if you want to become a songwriter or conductor. Inside Music Schools provides specialized knowledge in all aspects of music education and professional music career paths.

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.

After working in higher education for 40 years, and consulting independently for nearly a decade, I’ve developed a vast and 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 that is simply 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.


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.

After College...

At Inside Music Schools we try and make it as seamless and easy for the student and their family as possible. We communicate in many different ways. Following an email inquiry, our initial Introductory call is usually by telephone. Following that, our 2-hour Intake Consult is most often done via Skype or Face Time (eyeball to eyeball). Almost all of my students (and parents) come to meet with me in Boston for a two-day intensive program of mock audition, assessments, private lessons, college tours, and student meetings. We continue to maintain contact regularly through all of these methods. Many international students desire to study at the best music schools in the US. I work with students from China, Columbia, India, Australia, and other countries. We communicate easily and often via email, phone, and Skype. Actually, there is little difference working with a student in Korea than in California.
After their college experience I often hear back from students whom I have worked with while they were in high school years earlier. They call for advice, or for a recommendation/reference, or for our more advanced services that we offer that include post graduate masters advising and counseling. I currently am working with a few students wishing to go on and do masters level study in composition, or conducting, or even opera. Inside Music Schools also assists college students and college graduates who wish to have individualized, personal, one-on-one career counseling from our associates and my vast network of well-known professional performers, composers, songwriters, producers, recording studio owners, and even legal counseling within the music industry. If students or parents wish to learn more about these unique music college consulting services they are welcome to contact me for a no-obligation Introductory consult by messaging me through insidemusicschools.com or by emailing me at steve@insidemusicschools.com.