Top 10: Mistakes Music Students Make
You’ve made it! You finally got accepted to the music school of your dreams. You’ve worked so hard for this moment. You have your instrument, a binder, your books, and a new backpack. But wait…the hardest part of your journey is just beginning. There are many perils and risks that await you in your education that could lead to bad grades, dropping out, or expulsion. Don’t be one of those students! Assembled here are the Top 10 Mistakes Music Students Make; so get off to a great start and avoid these like a bad note!
1) YOU UNDERESTIMATE MUSIC SCHOOL
An unfortunate stereotype has been created: that music school is “fun” college where as people who study business and English are in “hard” college. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Music school will test you academically and musically in a way that you have never been tested before. Don’t underestimate music school, treat it the same way a lawyer treats law school!
2) YOU DON’T TAKE MUSIC SCHOOL SERIOUSLY
A lot of students have the perception that studying music will involve jamming all-day and listening to your favorite CDs. Wrong again! While music school involves a lot of musical performance, you should brace yourself because, academically, it’s going to be something you need to bring your “A game” for.
3) YOU RELY ON YOUR MUSIC SKILLS YOU ALREADY HAVE
Often times music students will come into music school and think, “I was in choir, band, drumline, and I had a band of my own back home. How much better, skill-wise, could I get?” Answer? To be successful in music school, you MUST get better! Don’t rely on the music skills you think you have; change your mindset and come into music school asking what new skill can I pick up today? Mastering more tools increases your chances of working regularly while establishing your career.
4) YOU ARE CLOSED MINDED TO OTHER STYLES
The greatest thing about music school is you will meet many great musicians and teachers from every conceivable background and nationality. Equally, at your music school you will be exposed to literally hundreds of different musical styles and genres that you will be asked to learn. Just because all you listen to at home is “metal,” doesn’t mean you should close your mind off to the other types of music you will learn about. We’re not saying you need to throw out your black t-shirts and dedicate your life to Calypso, but you’ll never know if you aren’t open to new music styles!
5) YOU DON’T PRACTICE ENOUGH
Simply put, you are not going to graduate from music school if you don’t set aside a decent amount of time to practicing (and no, playing Guitar Hero doesn’t count!). Brilliant technical musicians have failed in music school because they thought their skills could allow them to coast through school. Not if Mike Packer is teaching your private drum lessons – he can will recommend a 3½ hour daily practice regimen for you!
6) YOU DON’T TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR PROFESSORS
The worst thing you can find yourself doing when you aren’t getting the material in class or just can’t nail that drum pattern or guitar exercise is keep it to yourself. You are paying tuition so that you have access to a great faculty! Go up to your professor after class and explain what’s wrong. You will be surprised about how happy they are to help you! If you are lucky enough to be a student at LAMA, the student to teacher ratio is purposely kept low so that receiving this extra help is even easier! Also, the school is always happy to discuss your coursework to make sure you are getting the education you need.
7) YOU DON’T TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR SCHOOL’S RESOURCES
If you are just going from the parking lot to the classroom and back you are doing it wrong. Many students go their whole music school career without exploring the many great resources that are available to them on campus to help them on their journey to graduation. LAMA, for instance, has fully equipped practice labs for drummers, guitarists, bassists and vocalists. During your first week of school get acquainted with instructors and administration to make sure you are taking advantage of all the resources the school has to offer.
8) YOU DON’T STAY ORGANIZED
Just because you have all your scales memorized in your head doesn’t mean staying organized isn’t important! Get yourself a good binder or notebook dedicated to your semester. Divide it up into your different classes; you will be getting a lot of paperwork. Figure out a calendar system, whether it’s online or physical, so you don’t ever forget a class or performance. Don’t underestimate taking some time before the school week starts on Sunday night, to look over your itinerary for the week, to make sure you keep on track.
9) YOU OVEREXTEND YOURSELF MUSICALLY
If you are at a music school (like LAMA), that’s at the heart of the coolest music city ever (Los Angeles), it can be easy to overextend yourself musically. Whether it’s hitting too many concerts or joining in on too many late night jam sessions, it could distract you from your studies at your music school. There will be plenty of time for all the fun that comes with being a music school grad but make sure your musical adventures don’t distract from getting good grades.
10) YOU DON’T NETWORK ENOUGH
Last but certainly not least, network with other students, instructors, administration, local retailers and businesses etc. Get involved around town at music events/mixers or with your performing rights organization for example. Perhaps up your trips to local clubs and festivals. Know your key audience? Join social media sites where they hang out and have a presence there—engage them, network and make new connections.
Well fellow musicians, you did the hard part and got into the school, now it’s up to you to not make any of these mistakes! If you do, don’t get discouraged, pick yourself back up and talk to your teachers to see how you can correct the path you’re on. Never forget how lucky you are in finding something you are passionate about and turning it into a career.