freshmen year bagpipe player crowd

Anonymous asked: Hey. I’ve been following your blog for awhile. Super cool and informative! I’m going to be a freshman in college this fall and I’m kinda nervous (like anyone would be) I’m gonna major in Music Ed. Any tips for incoming freshmen???

Congratulations on getting in! Honestly, that’s a great question. Here are my Top Ten Tips for Music Freshmen

Schedule in time to practice.

Practice is no longer something you can do for twenty minutes when you get home from school. Pianists and violinists probably understand this already, but seriously everyone (singers especially): practice an hour a day, minimum, every weekday of your freshmen year. It will help you out in the long run SO MUCH.

I’m a huge advocate for using Google Calendar for EVERYTHING, so just slide that hour of practice in between classes, or wherever it fits. Then stick to it. The difference between someone who buckles down their freshmen year and someone who doesn’t tends to compound for the rest of their musical careers.

Schedule in time to eat.

Okay, this might have been a Me-problem, but I had class straight from 8am to 4pm three days a week my sophomore year, and 8am to 8pm at least one other day that same semester. There was no lunch break in that schedule. My roommate thought I had died a couple times because I had gotten back to the dorm after she’d fallen asleep, and left before she’d woken up. DO NOT BE ME. Leave at LEAST one hour-long break somewhere in the middle of your long days. You’ll still have days that are just as long, but that break will make life so. Much. Nicer.

Leave your door open at your dorm, and keep it closed at your practice room. The friends I made my freshmen year that I still talk to I met because we lived on the same dorm floor for like three years together. My SO, my best friends, yep, all of them lived on the same floor as me. I met them because I left my door open whenever possible, and so did they, and no one minded if someone came and sat on someone else’s floor. That’s a major method of bonding freshmen year – don’t ignore it.

On the flip side, this does NOT HOLD TRUE to practice rooms. If you’re practicing, keep that door shut. If you want to talk to someone in the hallway, sure, stand in the doorway, but Do Not Do the Doot without shutting the door. That’s how you annoy the entire music program.

Walk everywhere, as much as you can.

My freshman 15 was a negative 15, because I didn’t change how I ate but suddenly I was walking six miles a day. Yes, public transport is great if you live in a really far-flung dorm or something. But if you can buckle down and walk to class, or bike if it’s real far, then you can cut down on any guilt from not being able to hit the gym by at least half.

Just because there’s unlimited ice cream does NOT mean you should eat unlimited ice cream.

On a similar note: yes, the soft-serve is great. Do NOT fill a salad bowl with soft-serve. Just don’t. It ends badly. Coffee poured into a mug half-filled with soft-serve? A much better idea, in moderation.

The friends you make in your first week will probably not be the friends you have at graduation.

I still talk to my freshmen group, but that’s because we were all remarkably level-headed people who didn’t really do the massive personality change some students go through their freshman year. I’ve seen way more groups, however, that cling together the first two weeks of school, and then try to force friendship for the rest of the year, regardless of actual compatibility. Just let it go, and be friends with the people you actually get along with. Join clubs and intramurals, if you need to.

P.S. Dating your freshman year is not worth it!!! Don’t do it!!!

Even if you don’t like your fellow music majors, be polite and courteous to them anyway.

There’s always one or two people in your music program that you will not be able to stand. That’s fine. Do your best to avoid being in classes or ensembles with them. What you cannot do is: be cruel, talk behind their back, or otherwise be a rude and gross person to them. A.) That’s just mean, and you’re not a high school student anymore, rise above the pettiness. B.) The people you meet in college will be an amazing network for the rest of your life. Even if you don’t think that the person you dislike is a potential connection that will help you later, the people who hear you gossip or be cruel could be, and they will remember it. Always be kind.

Stick to the middle of the bell curve when it comes to talking in class.

Don’t be the person talking almost as much as the professor, either to answer questions, interrupt, or whisper to your friends. And please don’t be That Guy, the one who thinks they know EVERYTHING and purposefully asks obscure questions to seem smart. On the other hand, you should try to answer some questions. Feel out the atmosphere of your program, and adjust your talking based on that.

MUSIC MAJORS CAN’T SKIP CLASS.

Too many college advice things tell incoming freshmen that yeah, you can totally skip class every week or so, it won’t affect your grade, blah de yada blah. I don’t know if this applies to other majors (probably not any rigorous ones), but it certainly does NOT apply to music majors. You go to every class you can drag yourself to. If you have a major flu or something, email your professor and get the material. However, unless you are nigh unto Living Death, go to class. I learn really well on my own, and any time I missed a class I came back and immediately felt lost. DON’T SKIP CLASS.

It’s okay to switch majors – both within music and to something else.

Music is a hard major to enter, but once you’re in it, it’s easy to shift your focus or leave. Tons of people enter as Performance majors, and leave as Ed., or vice versa, or switch Composition or Tech instead. Plenty of others drop music down to a minor and get business majors or something else completely different. All of that is okay.

The current requirement that kids who have been told to sit down, shut up, and listen for 12 years being expected to know exactly what their career path should be upon being handed a piece of paper at 18 is DUMB. So follow your passion. If your passion changes, that’s okay – just keep going. You’ve got this.

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