Stuff Every New College Music Student Should Know

Starting university is a change for every first-year student. Many freshmen are nervous about what’s to come. Whether it’s living away from family for the first time, having roommates, and having to manage their time without their parents looking over your shoulder, new university students have a lot of changes to get used to.

At music college, there’s the additional stress of having to practice constantly. However, music college can also be fantastic. Follow these tips to ensure your freshman year goes smoothly, and you get the most out of your music degree.

1. Plan your Classes

When planning your classes, consider more than which subjects interest you the most. First, think about what your end goal is. If you’re a vocal student, consider some classes in German, French, or Italian. If you’re a composer, try to take up a secondary instrument. Use your advisor; they’ve helped many students before you and know what classes will help you get ahead.

In addition to looking at the types of classes, you should also consider each course’s workload. History of music classes typically involves lots of reading and writing. If you know you’re a slow reader, try not to pack a semester full of courses that require thousands of pages every week.

Look at the size of your campus. New students often make the mistake of scheduling two classes back to back without considering their location. They then spend the next semester sprinting from one end of campus to the other. If you have no other option, try to get a bike to help speed up your travel time.

You should also consider the professors of your classes. Look on, ask older students, or ask your advisor for advice on which professors to avoid. In addition to their teaching ability, think about ways you could network with your professor. If your focus is jazz music, try to find classes taught by other jazz musicians.

2. Set a Schedule

College generally involves less class time than high school, and many music college students assume they have all the time in the world. However, it can be easy to fall into bad habits without a set schedule – whether that’s procrastinating or working without a break.

Look after your mental health by coming up with a schedule. Even if you’ve got early morning classes Monday and Wednesday, and later ones Tuesday and Thursday, try to get up at the same time every day. Have a routine of studying at the same time.

When creating your schedule, don’t forget social time. Some students go overboard with partying and drinking, while others lock themselves in the library. Remember that balance is essential. Try to work out how much time you need to study for each class before committing to a semester schedule. Then, add in your practice time, time for clubs, socializing time, and time for sleep. If one area of your schedule is heavier than the others, consider dropping a class and taking it next semester instead.

3. Get Involved

Many students underestimate the value of university clubs. Although classes are essential, many students develop other skills by participating in student-run clubs. Consider joining extracurricular clubs that allow you to volunteer, participate in different types of music, or help you network with other students and working musicians.

Having an ability to work in multiple styles of music is helpful in this extremely competitive market. Clubs are a fantastic way to expand your knowledge, make friends, and get leadership experience.

4. Work on Soft Skills

The music college student stereotype revolves around the pianist locked in a practice room 8 hours a day, perfecting their scales and concertos. Although practice is an essential part of being a professional musician, soft skills can help you in your job search.

Time management, teamwork, and motivation are all soft skills that musicians use every day. While you’re a student, actively work on improving your soft skills, keeping track of examples where you succeeded in a class or performance because of one of these skills.

5. Network

Having a strong network when you graduate is undeniably a strong asset for young musicians. However, these connections don’t just appear out of nowhere. You’ll need to develop relationships and continue to nurture them during your time at music college.

If you connect with a professor in your first year, stay in touch via email and coffee meetups in the next few years. Let them know about your new projects and ask them for advice.

Connect with other students as well. Help out with their projects and connect on social media.

Networking won’t get you a job, but it might get your foot in the door. A young artist program is more likely to give you an audition if someone on the panel knows you or knows the professor who wrote your reference letter.

6. Social Media

Lastly, when networking, you’ll want to connect with people on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Have two accounts, one personal and one professional. Don’t post inappropriate images or statuses on your professional page, and keep your personal one locked down.

Have a Fantastic Time

Music college is a wonderful way to explore new concepts, learn about new types of music, and meet life-long friends. The most important thing for new college music students to remember is: have fun. A music career is about more than making money; it’s a lifestyle.


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