Going Back to Music School

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw my post about starting my masters degree. I still can’t believe I’m going back to school, but I’m also very excited. That being said, I want to share some things I’ve learned so far about graduate music school.

 

Hannah B Flute | Going Back to Music School

 

First, I want to talk about making the decision to earn a masters in music. While you probably have your own reasons either way, I want to share my reasons to help anyone who’s on the fence about doing a masters. Continue reading “Going Back to Music School”

Should You Have a Website?

The internet is amazing. You have access to a world of information, all at the tap of a button. You also have the ability to reach reach people all over the world, all at the tap of a button. That is why you, yes, YOU need a website…and a blog.

Should You Have a Website? | Hannah B Flute

I have been blogging for about five years now, and it has helped me grow not just as a writer but also as a musician and teacher. A blog allows you to share updates with students and followers. Continue reading “Should You Have a Website?”

How to Survive College Band Camp

It’s August, and that means that the new marching season is almost here. I marched in my university band in college. Through my time in band, I have learned a little about how to survive college band camp.

Killer Harmony | How to Survive College Band Camp | With the month of August comes another year of band camp. Marching band can be a lot of work, so here are some tips for getting through it easily!

Band camp can be exhausting, but it is necessary to prepare for the semester ahead. Most college marching bands memorize all of their music, and it can be hard to do that without an extra week of focused practice and rehearsals.

Here are some of my tips and tricks and well as the gear you need to survive marching band camp.

1. Have a water bottle at all times.

Whether you are rehearsing outside or inside, you need to be drinking water as much as you can. In most parts of the country, August is a hot month. If you are outside without drinking enough water, you can suffer from dehydration and other health problems.

If you are worried about more trips to the bathroom, you will sweat enough, so that shouldn’t be a problem. So show up to rehearsals and sectionals with a full water bottle.

Odds are, there will be a jug of water that you can refill from, but you shouldn’t rely on the band to provide water for you. Come prepared.

2. Use sun protection.

It doesn’t matter if you have light or dark skin, you need to protect yourself from the sun. Apply sunscreen, wear hat, and put on some protective clothing.

If you are outside during peak sun hours, this is even more important. The last thing you want, aside from dehydration, is a bad sunburn. It can be easily avoided with the proper precautions.

I was a little lazy with this last year, but don’t follow my lead. It takes a couple of minutes to apply a layer of sunscreen, and a hat should be worn anyway.

3. Use the best instrument you can.

While you definitely should save your highest quality instrument for inside, don’t neglect your marching instrument. If you will be marching with your own instrument, make sure it doesn’t need any repairs.

If you have to march with a school owned instrument, get to campus and check in with the band as soon as you can so that you can try multiple instruments and get the one you want.

The good school instruments go first, so you don’t want to be stuck with the cheapest one that hasn’t been repaired in years. The better your instrument, the easier the season will go.

4. Get enough sleep.

It can be tempting to spend your late nights watching Netflix, but try and sleep at a reasonable time. Odds are you will have to wake up pretty early for band camp, and your day will be long.

You don’t have to go to bed as soon as the day is done, but shoot for about 8 hours of sleep if you can. Band camp is tiring, and the heat doesn’t help. Take advantage of your time and sleep.

Your body will thank you.

5. Eat enough.

If you live on campus, you probably won’t have access to dining services just yet. You might have to eat take out for a few days, but make sure you do eat something.

Food is fuel, and you need that fuel to keep you going during a whole day of rehearsals and sectionals. Don’t hesitate to pack a small snack bar in your bag in case you get hungry. You can then eat it quickly during a break.

Even if you don’t feel hungry, you still need to eat enough food for your body. If you can eat healthy foods, great. If not, do your best to eat foods that will fill you up and give you energy.

6. Use your breaks wisely.

This goes off of the tip for sleep above. If you have a lunch or dinner break, enjoy your time off, but be smart. When you have some time on your hands, see if you can work on memorizing a section of your music.

While sectionals are devoted to memorizing music, you can’t work too much on memorizing. One thing I did during sectionals was play from memory even when I didn’t “have” to.

If we had one more chance to look at the music, I would still try to play as much from memory as I could. That helped solidify the music for me, and I was able to play it with more confidence.

7. Know where you can/want to store your instrument.

If you will be marching piccolo or another small instrument, you can use your own bag or backpack. Some larger instruments might even have their own storage closet.

However, if you will be marching saxophone or mellophone, or another midsize instrument, have a plan for storing your instrument. Will you keep it in your dorm? Can you check out a locker in the music building?

Also be flexible. The layout of my university’s campus had my dorm much closer to the stadium, with the music building a bit out of the way. If I had to start at the stadium, I would make sure to have my piccolo in my room the night before so that I wouldn’t have to waste time going to the music building.

8. Have fun!

Band camp is an amazing way to make friends and have fun playing music. Marching band is a lot of work, but the social aspect (and the music), makes it worth it.

I know that when I was new to campus, band camp allowed me to meet a lot of people that would later be in some of my other classes. Those friendly faces made the semester go much easier.

So, have fun!

So…

Have you gone to college band camp before? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments!

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Back to School Tips

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.

Killer Harmony | Back to School Tips | August is an exciting time for music majors. You have auditions coming up, a new schedule, and more. Here's how to prepare now so you won't stress later.

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.

So…

Do you have any other tips for musicians going back to school? Let me know in the comments!

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Should You Major in Music?

Choosing any college major is a big deal. You are making the decision to focus on a certain discipline for your college career. That doesn’t mean you must continue in that field for your professional career. Majoring in music is an option at many schools, but it is not easy. A music degree is not just “playing in band every day.”

Killer Harmony | Should You Major in Music? | Should you major in music? There's a lot to think about when choosing what you will focus on in college. Your skills and interests are only the beginning.

There are academic music classes, lessons, ensembles, and general education course that you have to take. Music is one of the most difficult majors you can choose, but it can be well worth the extra work.

It can be hard to know what majoring in music is really like until you get there. As a recent Bachelor of Music graduate, I want to give my thoughts on who should, or should not, major in Music in college.

Why Music?

What is it about music that makes you want to study it? There are many reasons why we pick up an instrument. It is a great way to be creative, you can make some life long friends, and music education can help your skills in other ways.

If you want to major in music, it is good to treat music as more than just a hobby. You don’t have to be practicing in every spare moment of your time. You should, however, be fairly serious about music and your instrument.

Private lessons are important for building your skills outside of your school music program. They also allow you to explore solo music and harness your craft on your own time. While private lessons can get expensive, they are an invest in your music career.

What Other Interests Do You Have?

There is this school of thought that if you enjoy anything else as much as music, then you should pursue that anything else. I don’t fully agree with that idea, but it does have a bit of merit.

If you are interested in an outside field, particularly one that goes well with music, keep that interest around. You can double major or minor in a second field. Doing that builds your marketability for after you graduate.

I chose to add a minor in Spanish, and so I can work with the Spanish language to increase my chances of finding a good job. Complementary majors include communications, business, languages, theatre, and so many others.

What is Your Musical Background?

If you just started learning music for the first time in high school, you probably don’t have enough experience to really flourish as a music major. While I did not start my primary instrument, flute, until then, I had previous experience on piano, violin, and other instruments. I understood music theory, and I knew how to discipline myself to make good progress.

You don’t have to play your instrument for years, but you should have a good grasp of the fundamentals of technique as well as other basics. Knowledge of scales, arpeggios, and a few solos is enough to get you started. Just know that there is a lot of work involved in studying music.

If you go into college with a jumpstart on music theory and some slightly challenging repertoire, it will make your first semester that much easier. Having s strong background in music is also a benefit.

What Do You Want from Music?

What is it about music that you want to achieve? Think about what you might want to do after you graduate. Do you want to perform? Teach? Something else? Narrowing down your long term goals will help you decide what to concentrate on during your time in college.

If you want to try your hand at composing, see if you can take a class or lessons to help you build your portfolio. If performance is your goal, seek out performance and competition opportunities. For future music educators, be sure you are taking all of the required methods courses.

If your goal is to work in arts administration, use your elective credits to take classes in business or even pursue it as a minor.

Music is a tough field to study and make a career in, and it is nice to plan ahead for the future. Being passionate and driven will help you tremendously, and setting goals will give you direction.

What Else?

If you decide now or later that music is not the major for you, you should definitely keep playing. Ask the music department at your college about opportunities for non-majors. You can probably join the large ensemble for your instrument and maybe take lessons, depending on the professor’s load.

It’s not required for you to major in music to keep playing in college.

You do not have to be a professional to play music. There are many amateurs who keep their passion for music alive well past college. I hope that, no matter your career goals, Music will stay a part of your life. There is nothing to be had but benefits.

So…

Are you considering a major  in music? What do you want to know about it? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

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