August is here which means so is Back to School season! Even though I am not in school anymore, it is still an exciting time for everyone. I always loved going shopping for school supplies and preparing for the year ahead.
Now that I have completed my undergraduate degree in music, I am going to share some tips to make going back to school (for musicians) just a little bit easier.
These tips can be applied no matter you major. If you will be playing music this year, there are tips in this list for you! Without further ado, here are my best back to school tips for musicians!
1. Prepare ASAP.
A new school year means a new schedule and a whole new set of classes to prepare for. If you will be in music theory this year, start brushing up on your theory now. If you have to take a piano class, get out that old keyboard and start working on your scales.
For the band geeks out there, pull out your marching instrument. Because, I know you haven’t touched it since last fall. If you are a returning student, look through your old music to see if you still have some marching music to practice. You can start memorizing the omnipresent fight song now.
Contact your lessons professor about scheduling your lessons. They may not want to think about it now, but you will look interested and more professional. Your professor might even think about you and schedule your lesson in your favor.
The sooner you start preparing, the less you will have to stress when you move in and the start of classes arrives.
2. Take your instrument to the shop.
If you haven’t done so this summer, now is the time to take your instrument in for regular maintenance. Once the semester starts, you probably won’t have the time or money to be without your instrument for long.
The more you play your instrument, the more it will need basic maintenance from a professional, such as cleaning, oiling, and adjusting. For the vocalists out there, visit a specialist and ask about how you can keep your vocal cords healthy.
The end of the summer is a slow time for everyone, musically. Get your instrument in good repair now, that way you won’t have to be without it during the semester.
3. Look at new repertoire.
If you have not chosen pieces for the semester yet, here is your chance. Don’t wait for your professor to assign you a new piece. Looking for yourself allows you to listen to a bunch of works and decide what you want to learn.
You will also start the year off on a high note (pun intended) with your professor. Especially if your professor has a lot of students, you will make both of your lives easier if you already know what you want to play.
Having a new piece or two picked out also means that you can get to work during your first lesson instead of spending the time going through a bunch of possible pieces.
4. Check your schedule.
Make sure you are enrolled in everything you need to be. As a music major, there are some classes that you need to take each semester. Lessons, ensembles, and music recital attendance are required by a lot of schools, and you enroll in all of them like a normal class.
If you are not enrolled in these types of courses, you won’t get the credit you need. If you need any or all of these classes for a scholarship, it is even more important that you enroll in what you need to.
By checking your schedule now, you also have a slightly better chance of getting into classes you need. If you wait until the semester has started, adding or dropping a course gets much more complicated. Do it now to avoid any issues down the line.
5. Get your books.
This is a pretty general college tip, but you should get your books as soon as possible. For the more academic classes, you will probably use your book regularly. Especially if it’s a workbook.
If you need new music books for your lessons, order them now so they will arrive in time. Playing from copied parts or free downloads is not professional and should be avoided if possible.
The earlier you get your books, the more you can avoid the crowds at the bookstore. That is, if one or more of your books are only available on campus.
You can order your books either through your bookstore or online through Amazon or Chegg. There’s really no excuse to wait.
6. Get a locker.
As soon as you are back on campus, sign up for a locker in the music building. Unless you are a vocalist, you are not going to want to carry all of your music plus your instrument across campus.
Lockers are usually free, and they come in different sizes. If you have a large instrument, or multiple instruments, you want to get in early so that you can get one of those bigger lockers.
Even though I “only” had to store a flute and piccolo along with sheet music, a locker was super helpful. I could store anything music related that would fit and I wouldn’t have to worry about forgetting anything.
7. Sign up for practice slots.
Depending on your school, you may or may not need to do this. If your school schedules out practice rooms, sign up as soon as you can to get your desired schedule.
The longer you wait, the fuller those schedules will become. Wait too long, and you might get stuck with a 7am Monday slot in the room with no piano and terrible ventilation.
If your school does not schedule practice rooms, then you don’t have to worry about this. But if that is the case, try and mold your practice schedule so that you don’t practice during peak times. You might not be able to find a practice room.
Do you have any other tips for musicians going back to school? Let me know in the comments!
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