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Over 3 hours a day spent in rehearsal. Countless hours practicing. A day beginning with 8:30 AM Aural Theory and ending with 10 PM dress rehearsal. It is the best years of your life, but there are times that it totally sucks. This is how to get through the suck.
1. Make a Schedule, and Stick to It!
Being organized is the #1 most important thing to not fall behind. Keep yourself and your schedule organized to maximize your work time. Something a friend told me when I first got here was to treat every day like a 9-5 job. You have a three hour gap between classes? Don't go back to your dorm and nap. Go practice, go write that essay, go meet with that professor. That way, in the evening, you have less to do and it can be spent socializing with friends, or relaxing, or focusing on a bigger project, like a huge test or jury.
2. Schedule Out Time to Practice
Going off of my previous point, if you don't give yourself a block of practice time, you won't do it. It may have worked in high school, but now, everything is busy and the world is on fire, so trust me, schedule that hour or two of practice every day, get it done, and move on with your life.
3. Don't Overwork Yourself
Yes, you need to practice every day. But not for five hours straight. Overworking will lead to sickness and injury, which will set you back even further. Take things one day at a time, and progress will manifest itself.
4. Rest if You Need to
If you are sick or injured, don't go practice. Don't go to your lesson. Don't go to rehearsal. It will only make things worse. Talk to your professors, they will understand. And go take a nap, dammit.
5. Meet with Your Professors Regularly, Especially the Ones You Will Have for All Four Years
I cannot stress this enough. Your professors liking you and seeing you are putting in the work will make your life a million times easier these next four years. They will be more understanding of problems later down the road, and will be more willing to help you and make you the best musician you can be.
6. Eat, Sleep, and Exercise
Your health is way more important than an extra hour of practice. If you aren't healthy, you can't get better, and that extra time in the practice room was worthless anyways.
7. Get Involved with Extracurriculars Outside of Music
If all you do is music, you will become bored and begin to hate all the other music majors that you see every other second of the day. Join intramural soccer, or art club, or a leadership team, anything to get you out of the music building. I know music is your passion, but it doesn't have to consume your entire life. You are allowed to pursue other interests.
8. Be Best Friends with All the Other Music Majors
I don't care if you find them annoying. Build relationships. It will help you later down the line. And the friendships in the music department are nearly unbreakable; lift each other up, support one another, help one another, and it will benefit both parties in the long run. Being kind will take you very far.
9. Don't Take Calculus
Or any other class that will kill you. Being a music major is way harder than it looks. There is no shame in taking easy non-major courses, it will benefit your GPA and mental health and make college life way more enjoyable.
10. Don't Overcommit
In high school, you were probably in every ensemble. You can't do that in college. You need to pick and choose which few you want to be a part of, and work hard at them. But being in band, marching band, jazz band, choir, chamber group, orchestra, and kazoo ensemble just won't work out well.
11. Use Rate My Professor Liberally
ALWAYS check your professors before registering for classes. Getting stuck with a terrible professor is bound to end badly. The professor can be the difference between an A and a D, so choose wisely.
12. The Friends You Make During Orientation Will Not Be Your Friends Forever
Don't stress about these friends. Make friends with people who you actually enjoy spending time with, not ones you were thrown into a random group with. And that clique that hit it off from the start? They'll all hate each other by second semester. So no worries, take your time and build relationships that matter
13. Have Fun
You are here because you love music. Don't forget that. And if it isn't fun anymore, there's no shame in choosing a different life path. Have a great four years of learning all you can about music, and then go into the world and share your gift with others.