Four-step Survival Guide for Freshman Music Majors

The summer is almost over. All over the country young adults are preparing for their first true adventure into independence. They will attend college, live in dorms, play inter-murals sports, and pledge Greek organizations. And some of these people will be music majors.

Now, let me be honest, being a music major you will have a difficult schedule. While some people are taking four or five classes, music majors will be taking six to eight. Homework is not normal homework in music. You have music analysis and learning the difference between a dominant seventh chord and a German augmented sixth chord. Ensemble rehearsals. Lessons. It is not always easy. Hard work is involved.

But, when the work is completed, it is the most amazing experience in your life.

So, in order to help you prepare or your first year as a music major, here is some advice.

Plan your schedule before you step on campus.

Time management is crucial to all people, but more so for music majors. Between the hours of rehearsals, managing homework, lessons, and eating, planning a schedule is important. From day one, schedule every minute of every day. Set a time to work on homework daily. Schedule individual practice times, daily. Plan your lunch time, rest/relaxation time, even your naps. If you plan your routine from day one, you are off to a better start than most students.

Music majors must practice.

Private lesson instructors and ensemble directors are not kidding when they say music majors need to practice. And, they are right when they say you should practice two hours daily. Now, this does not have to be two hours consecutive in the day, but it is important. Spend 30 minute on tone exercises and technical etudes. Spend another 30 minutes on scales. All of them. Then, go do something else. Relax for an hour, go eat breakfast or lunch. Get on Facebook. Go to class. Later in the day, come back to the practice room and work on your solo repertoire and ensemble music. And do your scales again.

Note: Ensemble rehearsals do not count as individual practice time.

Set a homework routine.

The great thing about classes in college is that you schedule them. From day one, you know what classes are suppose to meet when. Well, you are suppose to know at least. With this knowledge, here is a tip: do homework daily. One of the most powerful concept that I learned from an influential professor was “constant contact with the subject matter brings true knowledge.” Simply put, music majors must regularly participate in studies of all subjects. For example, if you have College Algebra on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, make sure you schedule time to review materials on Tuesday, Thursday, and on day over the weekend. Schedule this time. You should do something in every class everyday, whether it is attend class or review the material from the day before. Even it is going over your notes again, contact every subject daily.

Remember, take time to relax and refresh.

Building relationships with people and enjoying life will benefit all other parts of your life. Having a community of people to share life with, to discuss problems, or to just to hold you accountable will be a value asset during your college years. In other words, be a young adult. Hang out with your friends, play video games, attend concerts. Yes, take care of your course work and practice time, but also be sure to be a human being. Schedule regular time off to exercise, go enjoy the outdoors, or just take a nap. While it is important to study and fulfill your duties of a music major, your mental and emotional health are just as important.

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