Things I Didn’t Expect as a Freshman Music Major

The start of college is always a little nerve-wracking, and starting a music major can make it worse - what if people are better than you? Wait, what if you’re the BEST, what would that say about the program? What if you lose all motivation? WHAT IF THERE ARE SPIDERS IN THE PRACTICE ROOMS?I was worried about all of these things at one point or another, but there were definitely some things I wasn’t prepared for. Here’s some things that you might want to consider before you start school:

  • Exactly HOW LONG the hours are. Seriously. You don’t really think about how long 12 hours are until you have something every hour for twelve in a row. Be prepared for that. It’s not completely unavoidable, but if you’re a music major, there’s a good possibility you want to join ensembles, and if you join too many then this will be your life. Speaking of which:
  • The number of performing groups I’d end up in. I’m in my large ensemble choir, which is required, as well as a large student group, a small student group and two even smaller, very occasional jazz gig groups, as well as the opera production. My music binder is thicker than my textbooks. So many. So, so many.
  • The sheer amount of music I’d learn each semester. I tabbed my sheet music today. With 2/3rd inch tabs, I went all the way down the sides of an 11 inch long page, ran out of room, and started from the top again. And that’s without a chunk of a capella music and any of my choir rep. Practice is a thing that I do much of.
  • Planning for AFTER college. Wait, you mean, music school isn’t the end of the road? Huh. Hm. Uh. Guess I’ll… Do more music school? Yeah, that sounds good.
  • The goodies in the computer lab. Our lab has really nice midi keyboards at every computer, Protools and Sibelius on every desktop, and access to dozens of music databases through the school library. If your school is similarly set up, make sure you try these things out!!
  • The close-knit community. My school, at least, is a lot less clique-y then I was expecting. While certain majors are definitely closer to each other than other people, that’s more of a result of shared classes than anything else. There isn’t, as far as I’ve seen, any real inter-instrumental hate, or really any judgement of people at all. We all know each other too well for catty comments, because even if we did feel like making them, they’d get back to the person they were about within the week. It’s a family - slightly dysfunctional, but still a family.

This isn’t supposed to scare anyone, nor is it a shining call to Be A Music Major. It’s just some things to keep in mind so you don’t miss out or get blind-sided.

Dear struggling student part 2:

This is a list of the things that I wish someone had told me before I started college:

1. The right college is different for different people. You make your own education. 

2. The piece of paper called a diploma may qualify you for a job, but it doesn’t magically grant you knowledge. College doesn’t mean anything unless you make an actual effort to learn while you’re there.

3. It’s okay to get help from your parents. Yes, college is a time to learn independence. You do need to try to take care of yourself, but part of being an adult is knowing when to ask for/accept help.

4. Living at home does not make you a bum or a loser. What matters is having goals and working towards them.

5. Some things are going to be harder for you than they are for the people around you. There is nothing wrong with that. Take your own steps.

6. Some people will graduate from college in four years. Some people won’t. Aside from the cost, one is not better than the other. One does not make you better than the other.

7. Ignoring anxiety/attention disorders does not make them go away. Needing help, or needing to take a different approach does not make you weak.

8.  The social stigma around community colleges is false. Some of them might be bad, but quite a few community colleges offer a high-quality education and simply pass up the opportunity to become a full-scale university in order to keep offering their students that quality of education without drowning them in crippling debt. There is NOTHING wrong with starting out at community college.

9. Failure is only failure if you stop trying.

10. You’re going to drop a few classes. That’s okay, sometimes it’s what you have to do. But don’t forget the value in learning to stick it out. Ask for help first.

11. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PLEASE make use to the academic help offered at your school. Tutoring services, writing center, math center, academic counseling. It’s okay to be nervous about asking for help. Ask anyway. 

12. You’re going to change your mind. A lot. You’re going to change your plans for the future many, many times. I have applied to and seriously believed I would attend 6 different universities, and considered changing my major on multiple occasions. I always come back to English. That’s okay. It’s part of growth and learning about yourself.

13. Your GPA can be a fun way to measure your progress, but it is NOT YOUR ACTUAL PROGRESS. 

14. Your GPA is just a number.

15. One more time, YOUR GPA IS JUST A NUMBER.

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8 Books You Have To Read Before The End Of Your Freshman Year

For most people, you’ve been waiting for what seems like your whole life to enter the part of your life that–at least according to, like every movies, books, and TV shows ever–is the time in which the most momentous parts of your life are to occur. You know, like going to prom, playing varsity sports, or getting the lead in the school play. But once you get there, most of those things don’t just happen to you–you have to wait your turn. Prom is reserved for juniors and seniors, so you have to be asked if you want to go. You make the JV field hockey team. You get cast in the ensemble in the school musical.

Nothing is wrong with any of that, obviously, but it makes your freshman year a little…less than thrilling. Don’t worry, though–I’ve picked out the perfect books to read during your freshman year that’ll make each semester much more exciting.

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Treat your Freshman with respect

Before anybody tells me “oh we had to go through it too, they can get over it” those Freshman are the future of your band. You aren’t going to be their forever, so don’t be an asshole to them. Most freshman are pretty chill anyways! Today at practice we were doing run throughs of the show and right before our last run I was about to pass out. My director told me to sit down and watch as they marched, as soon as we were done our freshman snare came up to me and told me not to pick up my drum, that he would grab it because I needed to rest. He picked up my drum (with his snare firmly in place) and proceeded to walk into the band hall refusing any kind of help from me. Not a single junior or senior offered to help me and all the sophomores were helping with pit equipment. The only person who came to help me was a freshman with enough on his plate already.