Whether it's your first year or your fifth year, these tips from trumpeter Alex Noppe will set you up for a great year of exploration, learning, and growth!
1. Go to class and do your homework
Most students that fail classes do so because they don’t show up and they don’t turn in assignments. Too many of those end up paying for 5th and 6th years of college! Don’t let one missed class or assignment spiral into many more.
2. Use your professors for help
That’s why they’re here – they like teaching and helping students!
Never be afraid to ask questions, whether it’s about class material or anything else.
3. Use your fellow students for help
As much time as you spend around the faculty, you’ll spend way more around your peers. Learn from them. Ask questions. Practice with them. Most older student love to help out freshmen with advice and ideas.
A lot. Every day! This is your job right now – to become great at your craft. Nothing else is nearly as important. You don’t get to take weekends and holiday breaks off from practicing any more. The best thing you can do is actually put your practice times in your calendar, and plan on multiple shorter sessions throughout the day. Mental fatigue leads to poor practice and very few people can remain mentally focused on one thing for hours at a time.
5. Use the little breaks in your schedule
Most music majors have tons of shorter classes and rehearsals, often with 20-40 minute breaks between them. You’d be amazed at how much you can accomplish in those short breaks, whether it’s a hyper-focused practice session, theory homework, or meals.
6. Be a good person to everyone around you
This one is really important. Music school isn’t a competition – it’s collaborative and we all can get better together. Your reputation building begins right now, and many of the connections that you make while in college will be critical to your professional life down the road. Don’t gossip. Don’t cut people down. Assume that anything you say about somebody else will probably get back to them. Both positivity and negativity are extremely contagious, but positive people have happier lives!
7. Try out new things
One of the best things about college is the incredible variety of opportunities and experiences that you will encounter. This is the best time to explore new fields, take new classes, learn new skills, and do things that will challenge you. I can guarantee that you will leave college a different person than when you started, and you never know what unexpected opportunity might set up you on the path towards the rest of your life.
8. Be smart about money management
Remember that you have the rest of your life to work a job. This might be your only chance to be a college student. Save money on the things that don’t matter so much (fancy coffee, expensive cars, the newest cell phone) so that you have it for the stuff that does (extra lessons, a study abroad trip, high quality instruments). Small amounts of student loans are probably worth it if it means that you don’t have to spend your precious practicing/homework time working a minimum wage job.
9. Be healthy
Go outside. Drink more water and fewer energy drinks. Exercise. Don’t eat Taco Bell for every meal. Try to find some time to take care of yourself.
10. Remember that your worth as a person is not measured by your music
In music school, you’ll experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, sometimes within the same 5 minutes! You’ll have successes and failures, but you don’t have to define yourself by either. Every audition or performance is only representative of just your music making at one specific
snapshot in time, not a value judgment of you personally.
As music majors, you get a tremendous opportunity to spend a few years (or your entire life) doing
something that is deeply meaningful to you and those around you, and making our society a better place to live in. Enjoy it – it’s going to be an exciting ride and tons of fun. Have a GREAT year!!