04. January 2009 · 1 comment · Categories: Ramble

Due to things I’ve run into these past few years, I’ve decided that I should really write to prospective and current college students. It seems some things aren’t common knowledge and should be. I’ll start with this brief post, and perhaps add to it later.

Advisors aren’t gods

I know that high school students often rely on advisors. Please, students, don’t assume your advisor knows everything. Many know very little about what it takes to major in music, and many haven’t a clue about oboe. Some think playing oboe is a guaranteed way to get into any university. It’s not. Some suggest music degrees they know nothing about, simply thinking that it’s a major that is less common, therefore the student will get in. Ain’t necessarily so. Please verify anything your advisor tells you about deadlines and application requirements. Don’t take the advisor’s word for it; they advise an awful lot of students, and they make mistakes.

Visit the music department website

First, check for scholarships! It can’t hurt to try, eh? Not all schools require that that scholarship applicants major in music, so check on that too. Get the deadlines in your brain and don’t send things in late. Don’t make apologies for your CD. If the recording is poorly done I really don’t want to be told … believe me, I’ll know. If you made mistakes don’t point them out and don’t make excuses. Before you make that recording please study the music and if you don’t have an accompanist at least know how the accompaniment goes. (I’m puzzled by students who have never listened to the works they work on. Ever. I understand not wanting to listen constantly, but not at all? Hmmm.) Play the correct tempi. Play the correct style. And do check your pitch. (I’m weary of sharp sharp sharp!)

Contact the private instructor

If you are thinking of majoring in music with an emphasis on a particular instrument (or voice), contact the appropriate instructor(s) at the university, college or conservatory. Some won’t respond (which tells you something right there, eh?) but many will. Don’t start your email with “Hey”. I know that’s how most of you write, but you don’t know who the heck you are “heying” and it might be seen as rude. Do you want your first encounter with someone to come across as rude? I doubt it. If the instructor responds, reply with a thank you. Don’t just disappear. If the teacher offers you a sample lesson and you take the instructor up on that, follow up with a thank you note. I highly recommend a sample lesson, even if you have to pay for it (I do them for free, as do many). Someone might be a great player but a poor teacher. Sometimes you just don’t click with a teacher.

If you aren’t planning on majoring in music you need to ask the instructor if you will be able to take lessons, and how long those lessons will be. (Some schools only allow 30 minute lessons for non-majors. Some allow no lessons at all.)

Visit some classes, hear some ensembles, do some “homework”

Really. It’s a great idea to get a feel for the schools you are interested in. It’s a very good idea to hear some ensembles and talk to current students. Find out if you have to be a music major in order to play in the ensembles.

Oh … and a word of advice to parents: let your child do the communicating. I’m guessing other instructors feel the way I do. Once a student is preparing for college he or she should be doing the correspondence, rather than mom or dad. Really.

Okay. Enough for now. I’ll put this and more up permanently at the site at some point. And I’ll be posting some about mistakes I’ve witnessed once students get into a school as well. One of the most frustrating for me is the lack of correspondence; when an instructor emails you, students should respond. Sometimes I think I’m writing to the walls, as I only get silence in reply. Funny thing is that when a student needs my attention it’s expected that I get back to her or him immediately. Go figure.

1 Comment

  1. This sounds usefull… or at least, the “more” you’ll be putting up could be usefull. Major in music? I think the system is different here, but thanks for the info/future info anyway.