For those majoring in music, I like to sit down with them and chat about what they’re looking forward to, what they’re nervous about, and a few pieces of advice to help them make the most of their experience. If you are heading off to music school soon (or are in it now!), here is some generally applicable advice for you to take to school with you:
If you already knew and could do everything, there would be no reason to learn anything.
These things should always be in there.
OK, so you’ve been sick, but now you’re feeling better and ready to start playing again.
You know you’re supposed to practice. You just have so many other things to do. Homework, soccer practice, friends, volunteering… it gets so overwhelming. Practicing? You just don’t seem to have the time.
Classes are done for the summer, you’ve played your last concert until August, so now you have a little extra time to do some cleaning. Here’s a quick list of things you should tend to over the summer months...
Teachers, do you incorporate listening into your private lessons?
I ask this question in my studio more than one might expect.
Now that school is back in session, we are met by... chair tests.
In the bustle to get instruments put away and get out the door to the next class or to the bus, two classmates accidentally switch cases. When instrument cases are identical, how can you quickly tell them apart?
I have the privilege of teaching students at a wide range of ages and abilities. My favorite level of student? That’s a difficult question!
I’m sure you’ve met performance anxiety. And unless you’ve had some very unusual experiences, it’s internal - it’s all in your head. And that’s what makes it so frustrating. So. Frustrating.
Is your instrument ready for the new school year?
The semester is over, and you know you should keep practicing over the summer months, but what is there to play?
This ought to get you started, but check back occasionally for additions!
Yes, adults can learn to play an instrument, and to a high skill level. You are not too old. But the process will be a little different than it is for children. Understanding what those differences are will help make your learning more successful.
It’s a question that you may have caught yourself asking every now and then: “Could I play an instrument, too?” And I bet your answer comes pretty quickly and is some variation of: “No, I’m probably too old.”
Productive and quiet... two ways to stay out of trouble during downtime!
Really, this article could have been named “My Two Best Pieces of Advice for Solo & Ensemble.. or Auditions… or Exams… or Concerts." Two. One is easy, the other not so much.