12 Things Every College Music Major Needs to Know

  1. Be Respectable
  • Be respectful and kind to every person you meet. E.g., professors, peers, accompanists, staff, conductors, and of course the janitors.
  • Mistakes happen. Try to apologize in person or by email and move on.
  • Your colleagues and teachers will serve as your references.
  • Your peers will likely become your colleagues someday so be nice even if they wrong you.
  • College is all about networking.
  • Establish yourself as a professional. One you have a history for acting unprofessional (being late, unprepared, etc.) then it takes more effort to repair the damage and rebuild your reputation so treat every class and rehearsal like it’s your job.
  1. Be Responsible.
  • Take care of yourself.
  • Own up to messing up.
  • Be on time. My rule is: Ten minutes is early, five minutes is on time, and on time is late and unacceptable.
  • Organize your weekly schedule. Use your time wisely.
  • Always communicate and respond to emails within 24 hours.
  1. Be Prepared
  • Get organized and stay organized. (Planner, to-do list, etc.)
  • Give yourself plenty of time to accomplish goals.
  • Prioritize academics over extracurricular activities and social events.
  • Try not to overload on credits. 15 -17 credit hours is plenty.
  1. Be Reliable
  • Being prepared means you are going to be reliable.
  • Reliable musicians are always on time, engaged, and willing to contribute.
  1. Practice, Practice, and more Practice.
  • The older you get, the harder it will be to practice because you’ll never have enough time.
  • Make sure you are using your time efficiently and effectively.
  1. Record Yourself…often…like everyday
  • Listening to a recording of yourself will give more feedback than you can imagine.
  • Progress can only be measured over a long period of time. Save some recordings from early on.
  1. Listen.
  • Listen to everything.
  • Listen to the style of the piece you are trying to play.
  • Listen to other works by the same composer.
  • Listen to other instruments perform works by the same composer or from the same time.
  1. Do not get discouraged.
  • Quitting is easy. Don’t be defeated so easily. Keep pushing forward.
  • Trust the process.
  • Trust that you are working efficiently.
  • It will take time so be patient.
  1. Save everything.
  • Yes, everything! Even if you do not think you’ll need it in the future.
  • Save programs and store them in a binder. Especially programs you performed.
  1. Perform when you can.
  • You’re in school. Please take advantage of it. It’s one of the ways to defeat stage fright.
  • College is an excellent time to network if you are in different ensembles.
  1. Ask for help
  • No one wants to see you fail and if they do then the joke is on them.
  • Teachers want you to succeed and want to help you in any way they can. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • Asking for help shows that you are interested in becoming a better musician and not satisfied with your current status.
  1. Have as much fun as you can.
  • Feed your musical soul.
  • Remember the reason you became a musician is because you had fun. Continue doing so.

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