Conservatory Program

The Conservatory Program at The Rivers School inspires and challenges a select group of musician-scholars to reach their highest artistic goals while simultaneously pursuing The Rivers School’s dynamic academic curriculum. Accomplished faculty guide, support, and mentor students through their Rivers career, leading intensive rehearsals directed towards brilliant performances. Conservatory Program (or CP) students build confidence by taking risks and reaping the rewards, while actively creating a mutually supportive and inspiring environment that values personal growth, physical and emotional wellness, and a deep sense of shared community. CP students lead by example, bringing diligence, intellectual curiosity, and creativity to all of their artistic pursuits, galvanizing their ensembles and representing The Rivers School and RSC communities as ambassadors.
Open to classical and jazz instrumentalists, vocalists, and musical theater players in both the Middle School and Upper School, the CP is a co-curricular program that runs in tandem with Rivers’ academics and serves approximately 50 highly skilled performers. 
Upon graduation, students have cultivated a lifelong love of the performing arts and are as prepared to attend prestigious conservatories and music schools as they are to attend the nation’s most selective colleges and universities.

Interested in applying? Feel free to reach out to the Director of the Conservatory Program at Rivers, Dr. Matthew Heck.

Dr. Matthew Heck

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  • How to Apply

    Application Process:

    Application deadline is January 15, 2023.
    Applicants will be notified of admission decisions in March.

    Application Checklist (due January 15):

    Pre-screening Process:

    Please record a short sample of repertoire on which you are currently working and that reflects your current playing. You do not need to include all of the required elements for the audition (contrasting works, scales, etc.). The video does not need to be professionally produced (a recording on your phone or tablet is just fine), and does not need to feature any accompaniment. Please email your submission directly to Matt Heck at

    Audition Process:

    Audition Dates:
    •Jazz Applicants: Saturday, January 28, 2023 at Bradley Hall
    •Music Theatre Applicants: Saturday, January 28, 2023 at Bradley Hall
    •Classical Applicants: Sunday, January 29, 2022 at Bradley Hall

    Audition Requirements:
    Orchestral Instruments and Classical Guitar
    • Two contrasting movements or works from the standard solo, sonata or concerto repertoire.
    • One major and and one harmonic minor scale up to three sharps and flats in two octaves.

    Classical Voice
    • Two contrasting pieces (ex: one in English and one in a foreign language), performed from memory.  Art songs and musical theater repertoire is preferred. Sight reading will also be assessed at the audition.

    Classical Piano
    • Two contrasting movements of standard repertoire from memory. Concertos are not accepted.
    • One major and one harmonic minor scale up to four sharps and flats, hands together in parallel motion for three octaves.

    Jazz (Voice & Instruments)
    • Three tunes; two must feature improvised solos
    • One of the three must be a mid-tempo jazz standard
    • One of the remaining two must come from the following styles: ballad (required for vocalists), blues, be-bop, ragtime, stride, modal jazz, bossa nova, Afro-Cuban son/jazz, funk, fusion, or classical.
    • Major and harmonic minor scales up to three sharps and flats (four sharps and flats for pianists) and minor blues scales starting on four different tonics

    Jazz (Drums)
    • Four unaccompanied grooves: a swing feel, a Bossa Nova (or Soca, Mambo, Mozambique, Bembe, Nanigo, or Guaguanco, etc.), a straight 8th feel, and a funk feel.
    • A snare drum etude (optional)

    Musical Theatre
    • Two contrasting songs (ex: one ballad and one up-tempo) from a musical or similar material.
    • No sight reading will be required.
    • Submit two original compositions in manuscript form with your application; one must be hand-written.

The Conservatory Program provides students with…

...high-level instruction from a world-class faculty to cultivate their artistry and assist them in achieving their music or musical theater goals.

...inspiring and relevant classes to strengthen their technical skills and encourage them to think deeply about their art and its sociological context.

...ample, prestigious performance opportunities for their development as dynamic performers.

...artistic mentorship and logistical coordination to ensure they are able to engage with their craft as deeply and as smoothly as possible.

...opportunities to break down walls between genres and disciplines, fostering creative exchange and artistic exploration.


Watch our performances for an introduction to what musical excellence sounds like at The Rivers School Conservatory.

The Rivers School Conservatory

Founded in 1975, The Rivers School Conservatory is one of the finest community music conservatories in the country. In addition to providing a high-quality music program for all Rivers School students, the Conservatory provides music instruction to more than 900 students of all ages who come from all over the Greater Boston area.

The Conservatory faculty consists of more than 100 instructors who are among the most accomplished musicians in the state. As teachers, their goal is to help students achieve excellence in their musicianship while also instilling a lifelong love for music.

The Conservatory provides private instruction on all classical and jazz instruments as well as voice instruction. Because the Conservatory believes that musical mastery is obtained through performance, it offers more than 30 different ensemble groups as well as more than 200 performance opportunities each year that include both recitals, concerts and music competitions.

Visit the The Rivers School Conservatory website to learn more.