4 Ways to Create a Supportive Environment

There’s a connecting thread that runs through all of my experiences in music. Basically, it is MUCH more fun to be a part of a group that’s filled with positivity. However, a lot of musicians, instead of building each other up, become a little catty about people they don’t like. I wrote about this recently, in a post about what NOT to do at rehearsals, and I’ve been noticing the difference more and more over the course of the semester. The groups that make it a point to have

How to Change Your Class Schedule After School Starts

Choosing classes is hard. There’s tons of requirements for music majors, and a strict order in which you need to take most classes. Plus, gen eds are a pain in the butt and are sometimes actively painful. (I dunked my face in ice water for thirty seconds for a bio class once and it HURT.) Unless your advisor is a miracle worker, I guarantee that at least once in your college career you’ll need to add or drop a class after semester starts. Because you forgot about it, or becau

How to Be a Scholarship Boss

I’m starting a second blog – a real, honest-to-God not-Tumblr blog, about money and saving and getting out of school debt-free. A lot of the content there is going to be similar to this post. Keep an eye out for more information, coming soon! Scholarships are some of those things that no one – NO ONE – ever values enough. A scholarship, no matter how small, is usually going to be some of the best value-for-time-spent that you’re going to get in your life. Even if the only sch

How to Make a Schedule and Stick To It

The question I received recently from tumblr user @life-of-mack was this:  “How to make a practice/work/school schedule and stick to it?” That’s certainly a tough venture, sometimes. The short answer? Discipline. If only it were so simple, right? If the only reason we don’t stick to schedules was because we didn’t realize it takes discipline to do so, then the world would be a much more organized place. However, there are ways to make it easier to be disciplined. Be realistic

How to Set Goals in Music

An anonymous person asked: I don’t know if you’ve written about this but how do you set goals? With there being so many different things to work on (ear training, sight singing, technique, composing, arranging, playing with others, etc) I’ve been having trouble actually making (or maybe tracking) progress in any of these areas. Great question! It’s simple to set goals, but not necessarily easy. The thing is that goals have to be pretty specific, otherwise you can never tell h

How to Make a Schedule and Stick to It

I have a Patreon! Please consider supporting this blog. The question I received recently from tumblr user @life-of-mack was this:  “How to make a practice/work/school schedule and stick to it?” That’s certainly a tough venture, sometimes. The short answer? Discipline. If only it were so simple, right? If the only reason we don’t stick to schedules was because we didn’t realize it takes discipline to do so, then the world would be a much more organized place. However, there ar

Plan Your Schedule!

‘Tis the season to plan your schedule for next semester. Yes, already. Which means it is time for a reminder that you Need! To! Plan! All! Four! Years!! Don’t go semester by semester to plan out your classes. That is how you guarantee that you will be in school at least an extra semester, taking a 100 level class you forgot your sophomore year. So. How do you actually plan out four years of academic classes? Spreadsheets, my friend. Spreadsheets. 1. Put EVERY SINGLE CLASS YOU

How to Buy Textbooks (A Beginner’s Guide)

It turns out that textbooks are like, HELLA expensive. Just, so expensive. So costly. Too much. A student who has their first semester of Many Required Textbooks can really face some sticker shock when it comes to getting their books. But fear not! Here are some tips to HALVE your textbook costs this semester! Check your school’s library for books before you buy them. A lot of textbooks are held at your school’s library, as are books for “supplemental reading.” Go online and

Seven Study Moods to Start School Strong!

Semester begins, for me at least, in about two weeks. Academic stuff is already beginning to fill my plate, with graduate school applications starting to be due in MID OCTOBER, jeegus. This means that it’s time for my first STUDY MOOD post of the new school year! These are all ways I like to study – they keep me focused and grounded in what I’m trying to do. Pick your favorite, or try one a day all week! The Gardener: Drinking mint tea, drawing mind maps in a nature-filled sp

How to Write Professional Emails

So it turns out that writing emails to someone More Adult than you is the worst thing in the world. It doesn’t matter if they’re a teacher, an employer, or just someone you need to communicate something to – it is the worst. HOWEVER, that does not mean you can’t do the thing. I went from basically tearing up any time I had to do this thing, to only doing so for really really hard email. Which I will call an improvement. Here is how to properly write a Professional Email: Open

How to Survive Week 1

So college starts again soon. Like, really soon. My sister has a countdown until she moves in – she has 25 days. However, a lot of people don’t really think beyond the whole “school is starting up again aaaaaaaaaaaaah” panic to figure out exactly how they’re going to handle that first week back. It’s an important week – starting off strong will give you a good foundation for the rest of the semester. How should you do that? It’s funny you asked, because I’ve been spending som

How to Start a Performance Group

One of the things people think about when they imagine the college music experience is participating in small performance groups. They think about rock bands, chamber music groups, quartets, all sorts of stuff. However, at least at my school, there are far fewer groups than there are students. This is despite the fact that the first advice pretty much any music graduate will give is to perform in and work with a small group. So, if your school suffers the same problem, you ca

Things to Prepare for the School Year

So I saw the first “Back to School” ad on Amazon today, which means it is time to start reminding people of what is Actually Necessary for the school year. This isn’t a school supplies list, really. It’s more of a guide as to what you should probably have ready before the school year begins. A planner system that works for you. I like the bullet journal system, but that’s mostly because I have to write down EVERYTHING I need to do or it gets forgotten immediately. Normal plan

How to Start Teaching

Most musicians end up teaching at least a little, in order to help make ends meet. Some teach as their primary source of income. The thing is, to the young musician, there is no real guide to how to start teaching in the first place. It can be confusing to begin, I know, but as someone who has started teaching recently (look at the top of the page! There’s my teaching stuff!) I promise that you can figure it out. Find a teaching space. Before you even begin to think about tea

Best Jobs for College Musicians

It turns out that being a music major doesn’t always result in lots of income, you know? Especially not when you’re still in school. So if you are anything like me, you’re looking for another way to earn some cash on the side, to fund your caffeine addiction. From some In-Depth Research (asking my music friends about their jobs and how much they liked them) I have come up with a list of some of the best jobs you can get as a college musician! Desk Job Receptionist (hotel or o

How to Practice Music Without a Teacher

If you’re similar to a lot of music students out there, then the moment summer hits, you find yourself without a teacher. This might be because either you met with your teacher through your school, or because you (or a parent or significant other) decided it wasn’t worth the time and money to take lessons during the summer. Both are fair reasons. Now, I’d definitely promote taking lessons if laziness is the only reason you aren’t, but! For a lot of people, lessons outside of

How to Find and Choose Repertoire

So you’ve finally hit the point in my musical career where you’re not just allowed or encouraged, but expected to bring your own ideas for new repertoire to the table. It’s intimidating, since before about 98% of what you’ve performed has always been at the suggestion of one of your teachers. You don’t really have many immediately apparent resources for finding new rep. What are you supposed to even do?? I’m in this exact same place right now, my friend. It’s nerve-wracking,

How and WHY to Plan Your Classes Out

So! You’re an incoming freshman, or you’ve just changed your major, or you have just decided that you want to make sure you know when you’re going to graduate. Basically, you wanna know what you’re actually going to be DOING for the next couple years, and want to avoid being in school for three years longer than you need to be. Which is completely fair! The problem is that I have yet to see a departmental planning sheet for a major that included gen eds. I have never seen a s