and disclaimer.. i am cisgender so all i know about non-binary or genderfluid people is second hand knowledge, please please please tell me if i’ve gotten anything wrong or i’m being offensive i really don’t mean to be and i debated about not even answering this but… yeah anyway. under the cut
I get it, we can be obnoxious. But please, understand what we have to go through every day so you can get the best responses out of your peers.
Please keep in mind that this is an exaggeration: i’m not saying this is a be all end all. But please remember that even if you don’t mean harm, it could be coming off as otherwise.
“Oh, you’re in music? I used to play ____ in highschool”
That’s great - and I mean that truly - but it means nothing more than “you’re in english? I read a book once” or “you’re in science? I’ve done high school science”. It’s somewhat tiring to hear. I mean, if you know your stuff, that’s one thing – but if you never learned how to read music, it’s really hard to relate.
“So like, what do you ACTUALLY do? / What do you study? /Does that mean you study Katy Perry?”
(Also, see below.)
“Can you sing/play for me?”
Most likely - No.
“You can’t eat so and so? How ridiculous”
1. You’re probably talking to a singer. 2. But you don’t understand all the foods (milk products, sweets, pop, too flavourful foods, anything creamy or cream-like in texture, too vinegary, anything that produces saliva or phlegm or dry throats, even kinds of tea) we’re not supposed to have, especially before a performance, as it affects our instrument. You’re basically making fun of the idea of someone taking their instrument and bashing it against a wall. Or dipping your hand in boiling water right before an exam. Don’t make fun of us. Just don’t.
Related to the above…
“You only have to do a jury? How lucky!”
Well, yes – it’s nice to not have an exam in the same sense – but the same way your entire knowledge is tested in 1 hour, we only have ten minutes to demonstrate our progress. We also have nerves, personal bias, sickness (ho boy this is a big one) and as mentioned before, diet, that can definitely affect the way we perform. And our juries usually make up about 50 percent of our studio mark, so one bad jury or biased jurors and it’s pretty much it.
On top of which, we still have exams. Theory, history - both a technical “math”-kind of exam, then a typical history one. So it’s lucky for some, but not lucky for a lot of us - wake up just a little sick, have a sore throat, have someone who’s a language master on your panel, and your mark is GONE.
“You have it so easy!”
HAHAHA. Lemme tell you buddy- Music has as many hours as Engineering. Disregarding practice hours (vocal majors minimum an hour a day, piano anywhere up to six), we still have classes. In first and second year, we have to overload an extra course and a half. We have History and Theory, therefore papers AND weekly assignments, still. Skills classes, where we train in dictation (listen and notate), sight singing (look and sing) and keyboard harmony (look and improvise correctly), where we get tested on ALL three per week. On TOP of more mandatory music courses. And then, because of the nature of the program, music ed students often double major or minor in something. With all of that, four days a week of choir. Concerts and recitals which translate to more hours of rehearsal. Your lesson. Practice. Homework. On top of which, festivals, other performances, etc. It’s NOT easy.
“You can’t complain - you get to do something you love!”
We LOVE music. We wouldn’t put ourselves through this otherwise. But it’s a lot of HARD work - we do have fun while doing it, but we’d like recognition sometimes. We are so lucky to pursue a passion, but those who are in it know the grind. Therefore it’s even less encouraging to see someone pass it off as trivial, as an “easy degree”. It may come easier to us, but it doesn’t mean we don’t work hard.
Also, please understand – in a competitive industry where you’re constantly told you’re not good enough, most music majors are tired. Especially from a vocalist perspective - sometimes you can’t hear your mistakes. Performing is a huge step of sharing a part of yourself and in a way, the program continuously knocks you down. We need to constantly improve and consistently show results. We get our jury comments that tell us everything we did wrong. Frankly, it’s exhausting. Crying is common in lessons. People live in their music buildings to get practice rooms. We love it, yes, but it batters us. We all do things we love that kicks our butts, so to say that we’ve been asking for this, while true, is not what we need to hear. If we’re complaining, just listen.
So how can I support a music major?
Give us a hug. Even express how hard we’re working. Tell us everything you liked - which songs, which part. Just be supportive. During jury season, understand how stressed we are. Most of all, just come.
Come to our recitals.
Come to our recitals.
It makes our DAY to see people we know but not involved in music come support us. Usually it’s free, too. Just come support us on our passions, and be mindful of what you say. <3
I want to buy a bunch of toy parts, something I've never done before. What sorts of things (and from where) do you recommend?
Depends where you live and what your bird likes! If you’re in the states I’d recommend mysafebirdstore as their prices are pretty reasonable (and if you catch them having a sale it’s an added bonus) but shipping to Canada is brutally expensive which really ends up defeating the purpose of buying toy parts to make toys for cheap. If you’re in Canada I recommend featheredaddictions as their prices are also super reasonable, she’s a very lovely person and if you happen to live near her you can just drive over and pick your order up which means you don’t have to pay for any shipping at all. mysafebirdstore does tend to have a larger variety of natural toy parts though.
What you get really depends on your bird’s preferences and their size of course, it’s usually a good idea to pick up some string to make the toys, leather and paper string tend to be the easiest to thread since they don’t have loose strands like sisal does but sisal tends to be cheaper, I’ve found paper to be the easiest to make toys of out since it holds really well and is decently stiff so threading it through tight gaps is pretty easy. For my beeps I got the 1/16″ which works really well (if you’ve got a larger bird thicker will be better to support rough play and withstand a bit of chewing)
Rattan vine balls are a common thing I pick up for my birds, they can easily be stuffed with millet to encourage play and are one of the easier parts to thread on to toys, there’s a lot of creative ways to incorporate them in to toys and I find that adding a couple in encourages my birds to check out toy parts they may not be super interested in at first. Seeing something familiar often captures their interest and causes them to be a bit more curious about the toy as a whole. Here’s a couple different sizes with little Zeeby here, 6cm, 3cm and 2cm the middle one was purchased from featheredaddictions the other two were from mysafebirdstore. If you’ve got a bird who already loves vine and just breaks them way too fast you might want to look in to other 3D shapes as they’re made of thicker material which tends to last a little bit longer
Both my birds are absolutely adoring balsa wood sola balls, it’s extremely soft (softer than bird kabobs) and has a similar texture to styrofoam which makes it super easy for tiny beaks to rip apart. Super fun toy that would be easy to tuck a couple treats in to if you’ve got a bird who doesn’t like new things or struggles with playing on their own. It is solid in the middle so in order to thread a string through it I’ve found it easiest to take a bamboo skewer and gently push it through the ball by twisting and slowly breaking through the middle.
You can never go wrong with palm shredders! There’s a small version and a super thick version, one’s as wide as a smooshed finger trap and the other is a couple inches wide. These bits are easy to cut to size, super easy to puncture and throw on a toy, easy to hide treats in and are generally a good choice for adding more thickness to a toy and beak up strings of thin toys to make them more appealing. (heck even just hanging a bunch of strips connected at the top would probably make a great toy) (this is the large one). You can easily get creative, wrap them around twine balls, make a swing out of them, they’re very flexible and easy to incorporate in to toys in a variety of ways. They’re light and easy for small beaks to break while still having a stiff crunch that most birds really enjoy.
Recently both my birds have been loving banana leaf bundles, they’re tightly wrapped up which makes them a bit tougher but still breakable by tiny beaks. Again another toy that’s easy to just slide a couple treats in between the layers to make a fun foraging toy (or foot toy for larger birds). Same goes for twig bundles, easy to hide some treats in the layers and my birds really seem to enjoy chomping on them and playing around with the way the twigs interact with one another. Being a bundle means it can be a bit hard for them to break if they get too big of a mouthful but it helps them explore with their beaks while they figure out that breaking one by one is more effective (these can also be found in super mini sizes at FA)
Oh my gosh curly coners let me tell you, I got these on a whim because I thought they’d be good for foraging (they are) but my birds just love breaking them apart now! They’re a little bit of a stiffer material so they have to work at it a little bit more to break but this toy also breaks in more interesting ways, it tends to split with the spiral which means the birds get to enjoy splitting it then trying to rip it off when all it wants to do is run the length of the spiral. These are one of Mia’s favourites (and she’s hard to please)
I usually pick up palm flowers when I’m running low, they make great lids for foraging toys and can be used for foraging themselves, the coloured versions are great for adding more depth to a toy without it being super vibrant and fake looking which is something I tend to have trouble with. Being different shades of brown all the time can get boring so I find that these add some colour without it being overpowering and just ruining the toy. Along with those seriously try out some bael pods, they’re a tough wood so it’s a part that’ll last long with small birds and the cups are perfect for foraging. They come with a hole already in them so no worries about drilling, both the beans love these things! Using palm flowers as lids works really well with these since they’re tightly woven, it’s easy to pull up the lid and have it stay raised which makes teaching a bird to forage really easy.
and cork, my gosh cork. I got cork on a whim, I’d been eyeing it for a while and wasn’t sure what the birds would really think of it and they just, well:
Buying in bulk is usually cheaper than buying smaller quantities so do keep that in mind, toy parts don’t really expire and birds have very long life spans so don’t be afraid to pick up more than you need in the moment, they’ll end up using the parts eventually! When I was just getting in to purchasing toy parts I bought a couple of a variety of things (if you email featheredaddictions they can actually price out how much one of each thing would cost so you can test things without having leftovers they don’t like) and once I started to see what the birds enjoyed most I went through and ordered bulk.
It’s a bit of a trial and error process, you will end up buying things the birds just don’t like from time to time and that’s alright, whenever that happens i just try to incorporate things I know they do like in to the same toy so even if they don’t chew the undesirable toy they can use it in some way to play with the parts they do like. So experiment, don’t be afraid to try something new even if you’re hesitant about your bird’s preferences they may surprise you!