Seven Common Musician Complaints and How Not to Have Them

Musicians complain. A lot. If you’re a musician, and have complaints, I’ve developed a little FAC (Frequently Answered Complaints) for you to refer to when times get tough. Here’s seven common complaints musicians have, and how to stop having them! Practice sucks/is hard. Schedule it, make it a habit, and don’t push yourself too hard. The fewer decisions you have to make to get to the practice room, the simpler practice becomes. Stop when you can’t focus, and come back to it

Four Ways to Make Practice Easier

Practice: it’s what makes us good musicians! It is also the number one thing most musicians complain about online! Why is this? Well, because practice takes discipline, and that’s hard sometimes. Here’s how to make practice easier. Make it a habit. Every semester, I choose a time every day of the week to practice. Hopefully, it’s close to the same time every day, but no matter what, I set aside an hour to go to the practice room. By the third week of classes, going straight t

Four Important Self-Care Tips for Musicians

We musicians can be our own worst enemy. Our passion causes us to care too much, our perfectionism causes us to avoid practicing, and our unclear career paths stress us out no end. So in order to make sure we actually succeed in this art that we love, we need to take care of ourselves. Here are four self-care tips for musicians to make the most of their passion. Take purposeful breaks. Procrastinating does not count as a real break. A real break is on purpose, to rest, and fe

5 Ways to Handle Performance Anxiety

Performance anxiety is basically a fact of life. I’m on my second performance degree right now, and just started my second decade as a performer, and I still get some pre-performance electricity going even for “small” performances. However, just because you’ve got some adrenaline going doesn’t have to mean you feel sick or terrified. It’s all a matter of perspective. Here’s how to feel pumped instead of petrified when you perform: Flip your thinking. The most useful thing for

5 Ways to Prepare for Important Auditions

Auditions are one of those things that no musician will ever be truly finished with. Unless you’re Renee Fleming, you’re going to have to audition for stuff. So with that in mind, here’s how to prepare for an audition: Know your music. Duh. But seriously, know it forwards and backwards and in your sleep. So, know your music’s history, know its context, know its composer’s favorite color. The better you know your music, the less likely you’ll have a weird slip during the audit

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

4 Ways to Tell If You Should Turn Down a Gig

I’ll be completely honest: I’m relatively new to the world of paying gigs. My undergrad was not in a good location for classical performance, so pretty much all of my performances were unpaid, just to get something for my CV. However, now that I’m in a new city, I have MANY more performance opportunities, as well as a ton of unpaid gigs that just seem super fun. How’s a musician to choose? Here’s how to decide when to take or pass on a gig! Is it worth your time? Literally, i

5 Important Rules for Rehearsals

I’m in a new city, with a new performance crowd, and in a bunch of new ensembles. It has opened my eyes to some habits that I had started to ignore at my undergrad. Stuff I had started ignoring as just character traits of people I’d performed with for years now leaps out as unprofessional behavior. A lot of it comes from adults long out of school, too, so keep that in mind when you start performing in the wider world! Be early.  If you’re not at LEAST five minutes early, you’

How to Practice In Spite of Everything

Anonymous asked: I’m preparing for college auditions right now and I have a problem that is even more relevant now. I want to be practicing a lot more but I have always had a problem with practice because I am constantly tired. My doctor can’t tie it back to an actual cause, and has suggested some lifestyle adjustments. While this helps a bit, practicing my instrument always makes me really tired after a few minutes. I love playing and I just don’t know what to do. Anonymous

5 Tips to Have a Successful Jury

First seen on my Patreon! Juries are upon us. It is the time of panicking freshman, smug recitalists (because they don’t need to perform a jury), and general Stress in the music department. However, that doesn’t need to be the case. Juries are not a horrible trial placed upon innocent musicians – instead, they are a celebration of the hard work and learning you’ve done this semester. Here’s how to make sure you celebrate it well. Remember you are prepared. Your entire semeste

Do’s and Don’ts for College Audition Repertoire

Auditioning​ for college is probably one of the most nerve-racking​ things a musician will do in their career. However, the rep you choose can go a long way to making you feel better about it! Here’s some do’s and don’ts for choosing your audition repertoire to show off your skills. Do: Choose rep you are confident in. This is honestly the most important rule. If you aren’t confident in your music, it’s going to show. Choose stuff that you could perform in your sleep, and liv

How to Use Break to Love Music Again

After a semester of spending your life incredibly focused on music, it can be really, really tempting to spend your whole winter break ignoring your instrument. After all, you just spent 14ish weeks living and breathing music – sometimes the thought of spending your vacation working with your instrument seems awful. However, if you want to keep improving, it’s important to not bail on music your entire vacation. Instead, use your vacation to learn how to love music again! Tak

How to Tour a School

The following article is taken verbatim from my book, How to Music Major: Surviving the College Search! It’s on Amazon and all other places ebooks are sold. There’s lots of stuff in it, drawing on my own experience and my friends’ knowledge of getting into and succeeding at the whole College Dealio. If you have topics that you’d like to see included in the next book, What to Expect Freshman Year, message me and ask! So you’ve chosen some interesting schools — now you’re going

What to Bring to Competitions

There’s a big statewide competition coming up for me and members of my studio, and all of the freshmen are starting to get jittery. Recently, one asked me, “Like, what are we even doing? What do I need to bring? Help!” I had the same panicky feeling my freshman year (and honestly still do, shhhh). Luckily, I now mostly know what I’m doing, since I’ve been around the block a couple times. There’s a couple important things to keep in mind about most competitions: They are all-d

Efficient Practice Tips

To practice effectively, you need to be able to do two main things: prioritize, and know when you’ve lost focus. A lot of performance majors feel overwhelmed at the sheer amount of music they need to learn, but that doesn’t need to be the case. If you practice efficiently, you’ll find it much easier to learn all of your music quickly. Don’t dive into the music and try to play the entire piece right away. I know how tempting it is to just sit down and go through new music in o

What’s a Jury?? Help

Juries: the looming cloud at the end of every semester. Freshmen are told about them, and upperclassmen complain and warn about them. But what, in fact, are they? Who knows? I do. I know. I’m sorry, I tried to be dramatic there, and it didn’t – anyway. A jury is basically your final every semester for your private lessons. Every instrument is different, but for essentially every one, you will play some solo repertoire. You may also need to perform scales, or depending on your

Self-Care for Musicians

DID YOU KNOW: Being a music major is widely considered highly stressful. A friend of mine made a joke the other day about how she is always on the verge of tears, she is so stressed as a musician. Then she saw a squirrel and started crying because it had an acorn. Keep in mind, my school has been in session three days. And while that might be a bit extreme, that constant sense of stress is something a lot of musicians are familiar with. However, just because being stressed is

4 Reasons to Stick with Music

I will be completely honest here: one of the strangest but most predictable events of my musical school year is the annual Fleeing of the Freshmen. This event, as regular as the tides and sad like lemmings, occurs around the end of first semester. Freshman who were only three months ago bright-eyed and bushy-tailed head to their advisers’ offices, and for a million reasons drop their music majors and switch to something else. It might be class loads that they don’t like – “Ho

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

How to Prepare for Auditions

My first college audition went kinda awful. I was terrified the entire time, and don’t actually remember most of it. I wouldn’t wish those kind of nerves on anyone. Honestly, the thing that actually PREVENTS audition nerves in the first place is being prepared. Knowing what you’re doing is the best way to feel confident. (If you don’t know what you’re doing, faking it helps.) Rehearse in front of people. The worst stage fright usually happens because you’ve never performed a