Yesterday I had the great pleasure of lecturing on Cage and my own music at the Hartt School in Hartford, at the invitation of Robert Carl and Ken Steen. I’m always joking with them about doing endorsements for the place, and I might as well proceed. Hartt is one of the few graduate schools I recommend for my own students and for those who share my anti-establishment musical interests – others are CalArts, Mills College, Yale, and Wesleyan. But Yale and Wesleyan accept only a tiny number of students and are all but impossible to get into; Hartt has significantly more slots open. Hartt doesn’t seem to have the reputation it did in the mid-20th-century, and I can’t figure out why. I was certainly aware of it as a teenager, possibly because my first composition teacher Alvin Epstein studied and taught there, whereas I was in my 30s before I heard of Bard. One never really knows what goes on in a department from the outside, but the atmosphere there seems enviable, the faculty open-minded and mutually supportive. I’ve sent two students there now, and both of them have been amazed what’s been required from them in learning ear-training, score-reading, and other nuts-and-bolts topics. They take musical education very seriously. The students call it “Boulanger Lite,” and the curriculum does seem copied from the Paris Conservatoire. Nevertheless, it’s one of the few places where one could pursue microtonality, Downtown music, and even conceptualism without drawing down faculty discouragement, PLUS study electronic music in friendlier softwares than Max/MSP and Supercollider. I was very impressed this time with the level and camaraderie of grad students. I got to sit in on Robert’s “Cage, Carter, and Crumb” class, and he was running circles around me in the Cage analysis department. Maybe being slightly underrated is what gives a music department a vibrant energy, while acquiring the “prestige” label turns it into a nest of vipers. If I could do grad school again, I can’t imagine a place I’d rather do it than Hartt.