Whether you're pursuing music courses in high school or attending a licentiate program in composition, being a music student is challenging in a lot of ways – tons of hours in the practice room, chamber and ensemble rehearsals, and stiff competition for awards and scholarships. But a well-maintained music student is a successful one, so here are five tips to follow if you're a music student.
Don't Blow Off Sleep
A lot of music students will force themselves to practice for hours on end along with their other students, particularly in undergrad. Do yourself a solid and resist that temptation. Make sure you're getting enough sleep, particularly if you have a lot of work to do or you have auditions or performances coming up. The less sleep you get, the lower the quality of the work you do will be. Go to bed when you're tired – period.
Remember to Eat
Of all the problems music students have, this seems to be one of the most prevalent. If you have to, schedule regular food breaks on your phone or in your planner – even if it's just fifteen minutes to grab a snack before rehearsal or class. Don't skip meals no matter how much you have to do – like getting enough sleep, having enough to eat is key to helping you maintain your focus and doing great work in your classes, your ensembles, and in the practice room.
Take Regular Practice Breaks
Many students spend a lot of hours in the practice room, and for good reason – good musicians only become great with regular practice. However, don't force yourself to spend too many hours in the practice room without a break. Every hour or two, put down your instrument (or rest your voice) and take a short walk around, grab some water or a snack, and take the time to rest your body and mind.
Work smart, don't work hard – this should be your mantra. Don't force yourself to work so hard that you become exhausted. Exhaustion and burnout are common problems among music students, especially for those working through college. Instead of overworking, keep close tabs on what needs the most work – your embouchure, your chorale writing, and the like – and ask instructors for feedback on what they think you need to most work on so you can dedicate your time to working on those areas.
Leave the Drama at the Door
While healthy competition is always a good thing, don't concern yourself with petty drama or departmental feuds. Music school is demanding, and investing energy into melodramatic will only take away from the quality of the work you do. Spend your time with the students who are dedicated to becoming the best musicians they can be, and taking others up with them – and leave the drama at the door.
Taking care of yourself physically and mentally are the keys to success in any music program. These tips will help you stay on top of your work in music school, as well as grow personally, professionally, and academically.