When September rolls around here, that means we are preparing for a whole new school year at LAMA. You can just sense the guitarists putting fresh strings on their guitars, drummers getting new sticks, and the vocalists warming up their vocal chords. While it usually is a time of joy for music students sometimes we could all use a little kick in the butt. Was it a long summer? Maybe finances got you down? Don’t stress — even the most ready-to-go music students need a little pep talk. Hopefully you can use these tips to get motivated for a great year of music!
1) Keep Your Eye On The Prize
This often happens to people during the first semester at college: graduation can seem a very long way away. However, it is important to keep your eye on the prize. Sooner than you can imagine, you are going to graduate with that degree. With LA Music Academy, you are going to make great friends, network with wonderful musicians and artists, and you will be on the way to discovering and building your career in the music industry.
2) Remember Why You Chose Music
During a particularly hard study week or a day full of challenging classes, it may be hard to remember that something more powerful than anything else drew you to a music college – passion! Whether it was the first time you heard Led Zeppelin or the first time you picked up the bass, some sort of inspiration sparked a fire inside of you that led you to wanting a music degree. Take ten minutes from studying or in between classes and remember what it was that led you to music. This might help you focus your thoughts and get you inspired for the upcoming challenges.
3) Find Inspiration From Others
If you are a LAMA student, inspiration is all around you — on campus. From the department heads to the teachers, you would do yourself a favor to take a minute and talk with them about their careers. Perhaps ask Ralph Humphrey about his time drumming with Frank Zappa or chat with Tariqh Akoni about his time with Josh Groban. Sometimes even talking with your fellow students about projects that they are working on can be a great idea and very inspirational. Check out the clinics and master classes on campus (they are free too!) — these are specifically for LAMA students but many schools will have workshops and clinics of their own as well.
4) Positive Visualization
Positive visualization might sound like a hokey way to help you get through a difficult situation, but what if I told you that professional sports teams have used it to win championships? Positive Visualization is the process of imagining what it will feel like in the future and channeling that feeling into your work on the path to that goal. “Think How Good It Will Feel” when you graduate from LAMA or your music school. Take a moment and imagine walking away with your diploma and reflect on that when you are struggling through a class or rehearsal.
5) Remember How Lucky You Are
It might do you good to take a moment and remember that you are ahead of the game— you followed your passion! How many of your friends went a certain route for college just because their parents told them to? While music college can be very challenging and demanding, you were true to your heart and knew that you would be happy in your life only if you were playing music. Congratulations!
There you go friends, students, future students et al. If you find your motivation waning during this upcoming semester, try one or all of these tips and get your head back in the game. It’s important to remember that college is a stepping-stone to the rest of your life. If you are a LAMA student you must remember to take advantage of the faculty and administrators. If a class is too hard, just ask for extra help!
Get to the Music!!
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.
As we have mentioned in previous posts here on Get to the Music, the best way to see if a school is the right choice for you is to actually visit the campus. No matter how much you read about it or look at the slideshows of pictures, there is nothing quite like seeing the campus with your own eyes. Students come from all over the world to attend LA Music Academy…we understand how difficult it can be to visit the school beforehand, so why not turn that into an excuse to vacation? Especially since summer is right around the corner… This can be a great way to “kill two birds with one stone”, save money, and get to check out a new city and potentially, your future music school campus – and at your leisure. Here’s how:
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
The first thing you need to check out is when the school you want to visit is having open houses or visiting times for prospective students. LAMA, for instance, lists these on its website and Facebook page regularly. You should be aware of weather conditions– if you are visiting Berklee School of Music, the winter months will have very bad snowstorms. The nice thing about LAMA is that weather is nice year-round.
HINT: Los Angeles is one of the only cities with multiple music colleges like LAMA within 10 miles of each other. Not to mention, it’s a top tourist destination and THE entertainment capital of the world.
CALL THE SCHOOL
Before you schedule your trip, make sure to get in contact with the school. Make sure the open house event is confirmed. It is also good to find out if you need to RSVP for it or not. Calling also allows you to “press the flesh” with the school admissions officials who will be deciding whether you get accepted to the school or not. Also, if there is no open house when you want to visit, arrange a personal tour with the admissions. Many schools allow walk-in visits as well.
STAY SOMEWHERE CLOSE TO THE SCHOOL
Now you know when you’re going, the schools you are visiting etc. so when you decide to book your hotel, make sure you do so close to the prospective school(s) and public transportation! The purpose of your trip is two-fold: 1) to get a feel for student life and survey the environment in which you will be studying; 2) and to enjoy your vacation – so you’ll want access to action — the sights and sounds of the city. If you are visiting a school like LAMA, located in Pasadena (a suburb of Los Angeles), you will avoid a lot of the traffic for which LA is known, as well as the higher crime rates and high hotel prices of the urban city. Public transportation is in walking distance of nearly everything in Pasadena and it’s only a 15-20 minute rail ride to downtown Los Angeles – where you can find Staples Center, L.A. Live, Nokia Theatre and the Grammy Museum. From there, a quick transfer to another rail line will have you in the heart of the Hollywood entertainment scene in minutes.
SCHEDULE AND BUDGET OUT YOUR TRIP
Visiting the school won’t take up too much of your time so don’t forget to have some fun in the city where you are “school-cationing.” Get yourself a calendar (Google Calendars on-line is a great free service you can take anywhere) or start filling in the days on your smartphone. Perhaps you can do your school stuff the first half of the day, and vacation stuff the second half of the day. But make sure you don’t overbook your day of the open house/meeting at the school.
THE FUN STUFF
Since you are going to a city on vacation, make sure you do all the fun stuff. Schools in Southern California are certainly going to win the prize since they are in the heart of a tourist destination like Los Angeles. Books and websites like “Lonely Planet” and “Virtual Tourist” are a great resource to find all the must-see attractions. Alternative weeklies like the LA Weekly and the Pasadena Weekly offer a great resource for concerts and other events in the area.
HINT: Los Angeles visitors: make sure to visit Amoeba Records on Sunset, but don’t blow your budget on the amazing finds!
Safe travels future music students! Make sure to keep your eye on the prize. You can always take a vacation but making a good impression at your possible music school can lead to a lifelong career. If you are able to successfully turn your school visit into a vacation, we would love to see your pictures from the trip! Feel free to post them on the Facebook wall at www.facebook.com/LAmusicacademy.
When you are looking at prospective music schools, you will be inundated with flyers, brochures, phone calls and emails all telling you about why each school is the best for you. Choosing a music school is one of the most important decisions you will make in your life – what will make it easier to choose? Answer: Visit the school.
Many colleges offer several open houses throughout the year***before applications are due. In fact, LA Music Academy holds open houses a couple times per year (check the EVENTS PAGE on Facebook or the website). So as promised, here are ten reasons to attend the open house(s) at the music school(s) of your choice (in no particular order):
SEE THE FACILITIES
You are going to spend quite a bit of time in all the different classrooms and performance areas. No matter how many pictures you see, you will want to get a vibe for the campus environment. Is it a conducive learning environment for you? Check out everything from the instrument storage lockers to the restrooms!
Unfortunately not all music schools offer this at open houses but quality schools like LA Music Academy do. For example, you’ll have the option to perform live so the school’s instructors can evaluate your current level of musicianship and let you know about any areas that you can improve before you start school. This can be extra nice to give you that extra advantage by the time school rolls around (TIP: At LAMA you must reserve a spot beforehand for performance evaluation).
CHECK OUT THE NEIGHBORHOOD
Did you ever see those photos going around the net that showed Hotel advertisement photos vs. what the Hotels actually looked like?
The same thing can happen with music schools! It is a great idea to come and check out the neighborhood where you will be spending much of your time. Some people might not like music schools that are in a crowded urban city (for example a densely packed “neighborhood” such as Hollywood, CA) while others can be in beautiful suburbs of Los Angeles like Pasadena, which is close enough to LA but doesn’t have similar crime and traffic concerns.
MEET THE FACULTY AND ADMINISTRATION
Your teachers and the people who run the school are some of the most important aspects of your education. Music schools can boast about teachers who have played all over the world with some of the biggest musicians, but all that doesn’t mean anything if you don’t feel a connection or feel comfortable with them. Most schools give prospective students the opportunity to meet with their faculty, but few schools (like LAMA) also allow faculty to preform live sets so that the incoming students can experience first-hand what the school has to offer!
ASK ABOUT THE DIFFERENT PROGRAMS
When you first stumble on a music school’s website it can be a little overwhelming deciding which program you want to apply to and when you want to do it. Whether it’s an AA degree, or a Diploma program, or you want to study drums or producing, it can be very nice to hear someone at the school explain all the different options.
ASK QUESTIONS IN PERSON
After you listen to the schools presentation you usually have an opportunity for a question and answer period. Make sure to bring a notepad with you so when you think of a question you can write it down for later. If you have a more detailed and personal question you might want to pull a faculty member aside after the formal presentation.
LEARN ABOUT FINANCIAL AID
Financial Aid can be one of the hardest and most stressful parts of applying to music school. Take advantage of the Open House and bring all your Financial Aid questions. Hopefully your prospective school has a full-time financial aid staff member (like LAMA) who you can consult with.
MEET FELLOW MUSIC STUDENTS
Almost as important as meeting your possible teachers: meeting your potential classmates! At the open houses for music schools, you usually get to socialize with a lot of current students. It can give you a really good idea of what the environment at the school is like. If you get along with the students you meet, there is a good chance you are going to enjoy your future classmates.
HEAR OTHER QUESTIONS YOU MAY NOT HAVE THOUGHT OF ASKING
One of the best parts of visiting an Open House is that other visitors will ask questions that you never thought of! It can possibly give you some new information or a new perspective on things. Another student’s question might actually inspire you to ask something in response!
As fellow musicians we deal with “vibes” a lot! Whether it’s grooving the pocket on a jam or belting out that note at just the right time, we have a lot of intuition and feelings. Visiting the school is the only way you can feel that “vibe” and see if it is the right one for you!
Well musicians, get out of the house and get to the open house! Families are welcomed too. If mom and dad are a little unsure of your possible career choice, it could be a nice way for them to see that you are going to get a real education at a prestigious music school. You will want to get on the LAMA Facebook page here.
It might feel like the new year just got here but summer is right around the corner. You might think summer is a time for barbecues, vacations, and going to the beach. However, if you are a musician, it is an important time to brush up on your musicianship. Lucky for you, LAMA offers its annual “Summer Music Program” but if you want to get in on the “Early Bird Special” you only have until May 3rd to sign up! This blog post will tell you all a little more about the Summer Music Program … see if it is something you might be interested in attending!
The program for Rock, Funk, and Jazz musicians takes place June 21st-24th and includes instruction and band performance workshops, while June 25th is reserved for the recording studio and student concert. Plus… some major perks! The faculty of the Summer Music Program features a wealth of world-class musicians, many of whom are regular instructors for our full-time programs. The best part about this whole program is it isn’t as big a time commitment as the degree programs LAMA offers and the Summer Music Program is open to our younger musicians! Most students are teens and adults, but children as young as 9 are welcome. Applicants must have at least one year of private instruction. Make sure to read all the details. Link to: http://www.lamusicacademy.edu/departments/summerprogram.asp
The entire program is broken up into “Band Workshops”, “Ensemble Workshops”, “Private Lesson”, “Rock Funk & Jazz Styles”, and “Recording Studio”:
“Band Workshops” - you will be placed into different groups based on how well the faculty think you will mesh musically. You will write an original song, give a performance, and even record!
“Ensemble Workshops” – you get to perform with local, professional musicians and then get critiqued by the LAMA faculty. A bit better than playing to your Ipod at home, don’t you think?
“Private Lesson” – during this portion of the program you get an individual lesson from one of your teachers. This is a great opportunity to get some extra help on that one scale you can’t nail or bass riff that won’t come together.
“Rock, Funk & Jazz Styles” – this is the time where you want to open your mind and let other music styles seep into your musical database. Who knows, you might even like it!
“Recording Studio” - Most students’ favorite part of the summer program. Not only do you get to learn how a recording studio works, but also you get to record one of your original songs.
Fellow musicians, don’t miss out on the summer of your life! We all know how tight money is for everybody, so make sure you do yourself a favor and get in on that early bird special. If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to contact LAMA at 626-568-8850. There is always a very helpful person who can walk you through everything from housing to instrument storage; they’ll also be able to direct you to some strong coffee (hint: Starbucks in walking distance) to stay up for a late night jam session!