A year ago, heck, even six months ago, many people thought music students couldn’t learn online. But the March lockdowns changed all of that.
And now that the fall semester is approaching fast, we have to be safe while learning music. For some students that means having to learn online for at least part of the degree.
Whether you’re in incoming freshman or a graduate student, here’s what to consider as you begin the academic year.
New Semester, New Challenges
A new semester and school year always brings new challenges. But this semester is a little different due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Many students are starting the year completely online, and others have at least some online classes.
If you’ll be studying music this semester, you have even more challenges than the average college student. For online classes, you may need to focus more or provide your own sound equipment.
If you have in-person classes and ensembles, you need to make sure you keep your distance from everyone. Wind players and singers need to use the right equipment to contain aerosols.
It’s a crazy time, but the good news is that every music school and student is going through it.
Will We Have to Learn Online Entirely?
Another question that I have heard some people bring up is the chance of everything going remote again. Depending on where you go to college and how well everyone follows protocols, anything could happen.
If you go to a small school in an area without many COVID cases, you may be fine to continue in person. But if your school is large and is in an area with a lot of cases, you may need to focus your efforts online.
Unfortunately, no one really knows at this point. Some schools might go online while others will choose to stay open. This is why it’s so important to follow your music school through email and social media.
That way, you can get updates regarding campus operations. If something happens, you’ll know where to find that info.
Tips to Learn Online
For a lot of music students, this spring was the first time where they had to learn online. I’ve taken multiple online classes, both in and out of music.
It’s not easy to do, but you don’t have to make it difficult on yourself. Here are my tips to help you learn online as a music student.
Once you have your full schedule, including lessons and ensembles, you need to prioritize. You’ll have a lot of stuff to do, and if you’re a freshman, you also have to worry about transitioning to college.
Music majors tend to have more credits and classes than other majors. Ensembles are typically only one credit each, regardless of how many hours of rehearsal you’ll have.
Especially if you have to do a lot of work from your dorm or apartment, you should consider how you spend your time. For example, you probably shouldn’t practice at 10 at night (if you can, that is).
Keep your practicing during the day, and then leave studying for the evening. That way, you won’t bug your roommates or neighbors.
You also need to prioritize upcoming tests and concerts. As soon as you get your concert schedule, write it down and make sure you go to any require events.
Make a Schedule
Speaking of scheduling, you need to make a schedule for yourself. You probably won’t have a choice in taking music theory or history at a certain time.
But if you have any classes that don’t have a specific schedule, make one. Find a time each day or a few days each week when you can work on a particular class.
You can also schedule in your practice sessions. That way, you can practice everything that you need to.
Then, you can stay on track, and you can give yourself some sense of normalcy. A schedule can also help if you need to work part-time during the school year.
Ask Professors for Help
While a lot of this is new for professors as well as students, your teachers can help. If you don’t understand a concept, you can go to office hours or schedule a meeting with the professor.
Your professors can help you get through your classes, and they can explain concepts in different ways.
If you need more help, you may be able to ask another student or a graduate assistant. Some music schools have graduate assistants that work in the theory or history department.
And older music students can also help. Both graduate students and upperclassmen have probably completed the same classes but more recently than your professors. So students could provide a new way to look at things.
Consider Your Setup
If you’ll be doing a lot of classes remotely, you should have the right setup. You may or may not have done this for the spring, but it’s time to reevaluate how you placed your computer and other school supplies.
This is especially important if you’ll be doing lessons online. You need to make sure you have good lighting, and you may want an external microphone.
Think about how you plan to do any recordings or other assignments for your classes. The more you can prepare at the beginning of the semester, the less you’ll have to stress later.
But don’t be afraid to adjust how you learn and set up your equipment. If you find something doesn’t work, then you can improve it.
Take it Easy
While you will have a lot of stuff to do as a music major, you need to take it easy. Even after half of a semester of learning online, you’re probably not an expert. That’s okay!
As you start to learn online and in person this fall, take it easy on yourself. Give yourself breaks and free time to destress.
Do something fun each week, like hang out with friends or watch a movie. Work and school is important, but you don’t want to overwork yourself.
Especially since the pandemic has been taking a toll on people’s mental health, it’s more important than ever to focus on your wellbeing. If you don’t you won’t be as successful in school.
Are you going to learn online as a music student? What are your concerns? Share them in the comments!