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.
Second Annual Drummer’s Reality Camp starts tomorrow at LA Music Academy College of Music. You can follow @LAmusicacademy on Twitter for daily updates and photos from camp! Spots still available — sign up for the whole week or for individual days here: http://bit.ly/fGEpk8. The school is really excited to be hosting this in conjunction with DrumChannel.com — give them a visit if you haven’t checked out the site. Remember, everyone who signs up this year gets a free DrumChannel.com subscription for one year! Check out this awesome schedule of events:
WEDNESDAY JUNE 29TH
10-11:15am – Playing Techniques w/ Ralph Humphrey
11:30am-1pm – Ensemble Workshop w/ Ralph Humphrey
1-2pm – Lunch Break
2-3:15pm – Thomas Pridgen Clinic
3:30-5pm – Gil Sharone Clinic
5-7pm Dinner Break & Private Lessons
7-9pm Roundtable (featuring Jim Keltner, Matt Chamberlain & special guests)
THURSDAY JUNE 30TH
10-11:15am – Jazz Drums Lecture w/ Joe Porcaro & Tony Inzalaco
11:30am-1pm – Jazz Ensemble Workshop w/ Joe Porcaro & Tony Inzalaco
2-6pm – Tour of DW & Drum Channel & Terry Bozzio Show/Clinic (Transportation NOT provided)
FRIDAY JULY 1ST
10-11:15am – Latin Drums Lecture
11:30am-1pm – Latin Ensemble Workshop
1-2pm – Lunch Break
2-3:15pm – Danny Seraphine Clinic
3:30-5pm – Alex Acuna Clinic
5-7pm – Dinner Break & Private Lessons
7-9pm – Alex Acuna Concert
SATURDAY JULY 2ND
10-11:15am Rock Drums Lecture
11:30am-1pm – Rock Ensemble Workshop
1-2pm – Lunch Break
2-3:15pm – Cobus Potgieter Clinic
3:30-5pm – Kenny Aronoff Clinic
5-7pm – Dinner Break & Private Lessons
7-9 Kenny Aronoff w/ special guests
Here is a sampling of YouTube videos from some of our guest artists this week:
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.