It’s October, the time of year when upcoming college auditions are weighing heavily on the hearts of music students. It’s a stressful time with so many questions that seem impossible to answer and so much preparation to be done. I routinely give my students four points to remember to guide them through these rough waters with the least amount of turmoil possible. And even if you aren’t preparing for college auditions, keeping these four points in mind will help your everyday music making too.
1. Decide what you want. We could talk about goals or career decisions, but really it’s simpler than that, and easier too. What do you WANT? An education, to study with a famous teacher, an urban environment, a friendly campus? Whatever it is that you want, there are multiple possibilities for you to choose from. There is no one perfect place, that if you aren’t accepted there, your prospects are ruined. There will be several “great fit” schools that will make you happy and prepare you well for your future, whatever that turns out to be. Decide what is most important to you, and choose several options that will satisfy you. That is planning for a happy college experience!
2. Don’t overload yourself. This is not the time to take on extra commitments. By all means, continue with your normal schedule – youth orchestras, jobs, school, wedding gigs, sports activities – but don’t add anything new. You will have SAT tests, applications, interviews, college visits. essays, not to mention practicing your audition rep. If you are in doubt or need help, rely on the advice of your parents and teacher.
3. Plan, not cram. Plan your audition repertoire carefully so that you can learn the fewest pieces you need to meet the various requirements of the schools you are applying to. Then set a practice plan, allowing yourself adequate preparation time. Ask your teacher to help you create goals and deadlines. Then you must take responsibility for meeting your goals each week to stay on track. And no using the excuse that you work better under pressure. If you play better under pressure that will serve you well in the audition, but cramming practice is never a solid foundation.
4. Enjoy the process! It’s scary, but it’s exciting to be making choices about your future. And rest assured that none of the choices you make now are irreversible. Just practice, work hard, dream big and watch what happens!
Not headed for college yet? Or maybe you’re decades past that stage? Here are those same lessons in terms that will apply more to you:
1. Decide what you want. To play that special piece? To begin to make money from your music? To play in a band? To just play for your own pleasure? Whatever it is that you want, look for the different pathways that will lead you there and get going!
2. Don’t overload yourself. You began playing music because you love it. Prevent it from becoming a chore, a source of frustration or stress, or a guilt trip by setting realistic goals. Don’t hesitate to seek an outside opinion from a teacher or trusted friend or colleague.
3. Plan, not cram. Confident performances require adequate preparation, which requires sufficient time and energy. Regular, scheduled practice sessions and a written plan will keep you calm and focused.
4. Enjoy the process! Practicing, lessons, performing, learning – it’s all a privilege and a wonderful journey. And although there are milestone goals which you will achieve along the way, the journey itself need never end. How fabulous is that!
If you are just beginning the college selection process (or if you have a student or child that is ready), I have a 2 page PDF guide that can help sort out your options, and it’s FREE! Click Here for Your College Planner Guide