Five ways to make November successful

As the calendar flips to November, the demand on college students gets higher. Making it through this month can be tough.

The first semester of the school year is closing. Students at universities and colleges are starting to feel pressure from major projects, papers, and the impending doom of finals lurking over the horizon. Music majors often find this time arduous due to the concerts they perform and the recital or studio requirements.

November is a challenging month. But, getting through it and the end of the semester can be rewarding if you focus your energy and efforts. Here are some ways you can make November a successful month.

Read the syllabus

Remember that piece of paper or packet you received on the first day of class? You know, the one that laid out the plan for the entire semester, grading scale, how to contact your professor, and date of the final? That paper is important, and most students forget about it after the first day of class.

Here is the thing. All the information for the class is commonly in the syllabus. Waiting until December to review what is contained in the packet is a massive mistake that students constantly make. If you are worried about your grade or any of the content in the class, refer to the syllabus. Then, contact your professor now to talk about concerns. December is too late.

Do not be this student! Avoid this example from happening:

Or this:

Plan your days

This seems like a no-brainer, but planning out the details of your day will help eliminate stress. When you schedule your day and stick to it, your mind will be more at ease and ready for the next task. The hard part is following through.

Be sure to plan your entire day. From the time you get up until the time you go to bed, schedule every activity. Try to give equal time to every subject you need to study and plan ahead. If you know there is a paper due in two weeks, schedule an hour each day dedicated to working on that paper. Maybe your Physics class meets on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday? Be sure to schedule some time on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday to review the content discussed.

In addition to scheduling class time, home work, and meals, be sure to allow time for coffee with some friends or racquetball. While studying is crucial, the body and soul need time to refresh.

And, do not forget to sleep.

Leave town

“Wanna get away?” This commercial motto from Southwest Airlines is something we all feel at times. Because of the demands we have in school and our schedules, we often limit ourselves to the same buildings and walk-ways on a daily basis. There is nothing wrong with that; however, the routine can become mundane. Sometimes, you just need to change.

At least once in the weeks before Thanksgiving, get out of town. Get some of your friends together and get away from the familiar. Plan a bonfire out by the lake, go shopping, or find a local-favorite spot in a different town and enjoy time away. The change of scenery and sounds can relief stress.

Talk it out

This time of year can be hard on anyone. With school work and activities needing completion before the holidays, the demands are already high enough. Add to this the pressure from family to plan your travel for Thanksgiving and Christmas, or the memories of those you miss during this time, it can be more than one person can handle.

Talk to someone. Most universities and colleges offer free counseling to students. Holding on or internalizing the emotions and stress you may be feeling can lead to non-healthy habits. Take time to talk through everything with a counselor. That is why they are there.


Yes. This really should be understood. However, the later the semester goes, the harder it is attend class or study. Studying regularly now lead to understanding the material better, leading to needing to study less later. Cramming for a final exam rarely works.

Music Majors: This means practice!! Daily, get in the practice rooms and work on your scales. The more time you spend on them now, the less you will need to do before your jury. When your studio professor say “two hours a day outside of ensembles,” they mean it. Doing so will prepare you better for your final and build your confidence. Furthermore, the techniques you use in the practice room will also transfer to teaching ensemble after you graduate.

The purpose of college marching bands

It is college football season, and nothing adds to the atmosphere like marching bands. But, bands are more than crowd entertainment. 

Turn on any college football game on a Saturday afternoon and you will hear the sounds of marching bands filling the air. These bands are filled with young students that participate for various reasons. This could be simply because they love the atmosphere, or enjoying performing. Others enjoy the social aspect of the activity.

For spectators, they see the marching band as part of the package, or a spirit organization. Bands are visible during pep rallies, tailgating, or other athletic related events. What is often overlooked are the multiple functions that these organizations fulfill for the university, community, and the student members.

For the University and Community:

Bands performs a crucial role within the college or university as a whole. Sure, they are part of games, leading cheers and providing timely music, but there is a great deal more. These groups of students and leaders are responsible for creating an exciting and enjoyable spirit throughout the school. Bands are the keepers of the fight song and traditional songs, and are asked to maintain their energy and importance.

It is the band that is responsible for turning students into active alumni and community members into supporters and fans. Through performances of traditional music, bands help alumni recall their “glory days.” It is the energy and song selections that kids turn into fans and students into alumni. And, the visibility and performance quality of the band that draws the community to the school.

For the Student Membership:

While the function of the marching band is regarded to many as a spirit organization, the true purpose is to serve the students in the ensemble. This is done in several ways.

First, the marching band gives students the opportunity to interact and work together with other from various academic pursuits, races, cultures, and backgrounds. For many of these students, marching band serves as a social or creative outlet. But, whether it is at band camp or at a football game, the students are working with others that are different and building quality relationships.

Band encourages working on tasks in order to meet a deadline. Sure, this happens in other classes as well. But in marching band (and other music ensembles), students have a limited amount of time in which they can meet with the entire team to learn a show for the next game. Add to this the standards of high achievement and performing in front of thousands and tens of thousands of audience members. No stress, right?

But there are other functions within the ensemble that do not get discusses as greatly. One function is leadership training. Within an ensemble, opportunities for leadership abound. A student could be a section leader responsible for keeping a small group on task and provide musical or visual instruction at each rehearsal. Others could be drum majors. These students often fulfill administrative tasks like attendance or distribution of copies to 100 – 400 people, and lead musically from the front sidelines during performances. Every band has some level of leadership established, and the opportunities are endless.

Lastly, many of the students within the marching band are going to be teachers. Through their experience in the ensemble, students can learn organizational skills and classroom management. Future music teachers are provided laboratory experiences by teaching or creating music and drill for performances.

It is more than just a marching band – it is a community of college students keeping spirit alive and energy flowing while learning to be leaders and creators. Marching band just fits on a t-shirt better.

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.