practice music around finals

The problem with finals week is that everything is suddenly due at once. The project is due the same week as the big test is due the same day as the massive paper is due the day before your jury. For the average music major, this piles stress on top of stress, because somehow you have to know all these composers from 600 years of music history, AND have the analysis paper finished? AND finish that composition? AND PASS YOUR JURY? AT THE SAME TIME?!?! How can you find time to practice music with all of that?

I have totally been there, and let me tell you: it sucks. It sucks like a Hoover. However, it is possible to balance 13 finals and final projects and still practice music. Here’s some suggestions!

Practice Music During Finals

  • Pinpoint what will take the longest. Know what you’re going to be spending the lion’s share of time on in the next couple weeks, so you can focus appropriately. Nothing will kill your overall ability to succeed faster than wasting three hours perfecting a project that you could finish well in one, when you COULD have spent that time on a paper that will definitely take eight. Time management is the key, here. Plus, a list of how long you estimate each item you need to complete will take is going to come in handy in about, oh, two points.
  • If you can, get ahead NOW. Take that paper that’s definitely going to take you eight hours, for example. There’s about a week left before finals kick in for most people. That means that this weekend is prime time to get some solid work done on it. Spend a solid chunk of time NOW to prevent ulcers LATER. Anything you do now is going to make finals week easier.
  • Schedule your life! I mean it. Know what you’re going to do for the next five days. Hour by hour is good, and quarter-hour by quarter-hour is great. However, this means including down time. Include healthy amounts of sleep, meals, and exercise. Look at that list you made a little earlier. Spread out your work on each project. If you have eight hours between the end of rehearsal and midnight (don’t PLAN on staying up past midnight, please) then your schedule could look something like this. It leaves you with an hour and a half of practice, plenty of time to work on stuff, some breaks, real food, and gets you in bed by midnight. And this is only in the six hours after most people finish rehearsal.
    • 4:00pm: PRACTICE.
    • 5:30PM: Get materials from the library
    • 6:00pm: Eat food
    • 6:45pm: work on Analysis paper (4 hours of work left, due in 2 weeks)
    • 7:45pm: chill
    • 8:00pm: work on Recording Industry Operations presentation (2 hours of work left, due in 1 week)
    • 8:45pm: Goof off.
    • 9:00pm: study Music History (should probably study at least 5 more hours, test in 1 week)
    • 10:00pm: study Pedagogy (should probably study 2 more hours, test in 1.5 weeks)
    • 11:00pm: show and otherwise get ready for sleep
    • 12:00am: sleep
  • Don’t let yourself skip sleep. Seriously, sleep and getting enough of it will make your life so, so, so much easier. You will remember stuff better, you will feel better, you will be less inclined to cry if offered free food. Sleep is important
  • Ditto food. Seriously, this will also help. Eat something green other than M&Ms at least once a day, and drink some water, too. (VOCALISTS ESPECIALLY.) Cookies only become a food group during finals week itself, AFTER your jury.
  • Protect your practice time with your life. This is the most important point, honestly. You’ve scheduled your days out. You know when you’re free to practice music, and you HAVE to stick with that. If you want to practice for a certain amount of time, then you have to keep to your schedule. Don’t let studying creep in – if you’re a music major, then music is you primary goal, right? Prioritize and the rest will follow.

Good luck! Practice hard, but take care of yourself!


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