What I would do differently as a college music major

December 7, 2016

Believe it or not, some of my college students make mistakes that seem somehow familiar. If I could go back to college (and graduate school) and do it all over, here are a few things I might choose to do differently.

photo, m00by
photo, m00by
  • Embrace my teachers’ approaches. As readers of this blog know, I tend to be a bit opinionated about woodwind playing, and as a student I was sometimes too quick to dismiss what I was being taught. A better approach would have been to learn enthusiastically and immersively my teachers’ playing styles, thought processes, equipment choices, and philosophies, mine them for every bit of value and wisdom, and wait until later to make better-educated decisions about what to keep and what to discard.
  • Invest more time and effort into fundamentals. Like many students (and professionals?) I spent a fair amount of practice time focused on learning an étude or repertoire piece, as opposed to learning to play the instrument and to make music. The recitals and concerts I was so fixated on at the time seem much less important now, but the time I could have spent working on basics of tone production, finger technique, and interpretation would have paid nice dividends in the years since.
  • Listen to more music. Mostly I did pretty well at attending concerts on campus. And I went to a few things in the community. And I checked out a few recordings. But why let such a large percentage of my musical intake be performances by other students, or by the professors whose playing I already knew well? What if I had made a point of listening to something new every day, even for a few minutes? What kind of musical depth could I have developed by listening to 365 great woodwind players per year?

Study and practice smart!