Frost: The ‘This And’ School

The Knight Center for Music Innovation at the University of Miami Coral Gables campus. Photo credit: Emily Rice

Ranked as the No. 1 music school in Florida and among the top 10 in the country, the Frost School of Music steps away from traditional-style conservatory music institutions and empowers students to curate unique experiences in a world-class setting.

Frost is undeniably a powerhouse, radiant with innovative musicians paving the way for future generations to come. Frost Dean Shelton “Shelly” Berg outlines the mission the school hopes to grant for their students.

“At this school, we’re the ‘this and’ school,” Berg said. “The Frost school encourages people to do what our motto is. To build yourself at the Frost School, and we empower people to curate unique experiences among the many world-class offerings at this school.”

Dean Berg emphasizes the one of a kind experiential music curriculum Frost offers allowing students the ability to dip their finger into every aspect of the music industry.

“We have the Frost method curriculum, which is unlike any other,” Berg said. “Being able to create music even if you’re a classical musician. Understanding the business of music. Being able to teach others. Understanding how to use the technologies in music. Being able to think critically and contextually.”

This distinctive approach called “through-lines” successfully impacts the careers of Frost students by weaving the methods together. Julia Barrist, a junior music industry major with a minor in creative American music, describes the advantage she’s gained from receiving a diverse set of courses within the music industry.

“I feel like I’m able to go into any industry scenario and have a default understanding of what they do and how they do it,” Barrist said.

The recent surge of social media and use of internet outlets for advertising has pivoted the approach musicians take towards building an audience and using these technological advances to their advantage. This has changed the industry for musicians leading Frost to offer training on how to use this technology successfully.

“Technology and the internet have democratized being a musician,” Berg said.

Technology continues to advance, and Frost ensures that its musicians do not miss out on learning this essential skill. Students find relief in knowing how the curriculum is preparing them.

Rajan Rao, a current freshman majoring in musical performance, appreciates that taking a music technology class prepares classical and jazz majors like him to be a musician in the 21st century.

“I had the opportunity to take a music tech class in my first semester, and it gave me the opportunity to learn the basics of producing, mixing, mastering tracks and that’s something you really don’t get at a normal conservatory-style school,” Rao said.

Apart from innovative courses, the faculty at Frost plays an important role in the formation of the next generation of groundbreaking musicians.

“I think we have really great professors in our program, specifically great people, talented people, Grammy-winning nominated people,” said Devon Sellers, a Frost student majoring in modern artist development and entrepreneurship and minoring in creative American music.

Adyna Silverberg, a sophomore majoring in music industry with a minor in creative American music, emphasizes the importance of faculty-to-student ratio and the influence it had on her decision to attend Frost.

“The ratio of teacher to students was very low and I like having a one-on-one relationship with my professors,” Silverberg said.

The supportive environment Frost offers is another factor that sets the institution apart from other highly competitive music conservatories. The curated culture fostered by the faculty proves to be a pillar through the vulnerability students experience when performing and creating art.

“What I like about our culture is that our students are not trying to get ahead by beating each other out of opportunity,” Berg said. “The culture here is that they feel that they want to help each other get ahead.”

Students agree that the distinct Frost environment is a desirable place to receive a high-level education.

“I talked to a professor before coming to school and she said that everyone at Frost was really close-knit and a family,” Barrist said. “At music school, it can often get really competitive, and that’s not really my vibe, so I was looking for a more happy, uplifting environment,”

Aside from the courses included within the curriculum, Frost offers a wide variety of student-run organizations and clubs where students can practice the skills they learned in class firsthand.

“I go to my clubs after school and I’m able to get more of a real-life application of what I’m learning and that’s been really valuable. I feel in a weird way like I’ve grown the most from those real-life applications up to what I’m being taught in the classroom.” Barrist said.

While some Frost students express their contentment with their education, others agree that the next steps to improve the school would be new practice rooms. The current practice rooms in the Foster building present numerous problems for students, preventing them from practicing comfortably.

“If you’re in music school, you should be able to practice,” Cowell said. “Just from my experience, if you go in during the day and you’re not doing weird hours and you haven’t reserved the room, you can’t get a room.”

The difficulty in finding an available room to practice can be an inconvenience, and the mold within the building — previously covered by UMTV and TMH —has also raised concerns.

“Everyone knows there’s mold in Foster,” Sellers said. “I feel it when I breathe in there. I don’t feel good in those practice rooms.”

Although the practice rooms could use improvement, other students express their sentimental attachment to the Foster building.

“There is a special charm to the Foster practice rooms because they are so old,” Barrist said. “I feel like there’s a happy home energy in there… it has character, it’s part of the Frost experience I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

For the time being, Frost is prioritizing the technological advancements occurring within the industry, and ensuring students have up-to-date resources readily available for their artistic use.

“Our goal is to be the most technologically forward music school in the country,” Berg said. “We now have a few classes with AI in music. We’ll be continuing to incubate surround video, surround sound, AI, virtual reality, augmented reality in the Knight Center and in the Hormel Innovation stage.”

Students agree that the technological advancements found only at Frost serve as incredible tools as they advance in their unique definitions of musicianship.

“In terms of facilities, I think a lot of them are really great,” Colwell said. “I think that the recording studios are awesome. Just in terms of each recital hall and the microphones we have and the set up we have in each one is amazing.”

As to what’s next for Frost, Berg stressed the precedence of upholding the prestige of Frost by providing resources to their students.

“My biggest priority as dean is for people like you,” Berg said.

To learn more about the Frost School of Music, visit