Music. It's an integral part of everyone's lives. We hear it on the radio, we can't get enough of it. Everyone loves music in one way or another. Some people love it so much that they go on to study it in college, and some make the commitment to study music to the point of fully being capable to teach it in schools. This article is for those people: the music education majors.
I decided to become a music education major to teach the art of music to the next generation of young students, to show them what this aural art is really able to do in terms of personal effect. I still remember the day that I showed up to my audition: snow blinded me to the point where all I could see was white, and my mom and I could barely see the roads painted in white snow. I approached the table to check in to my audition. I think the music majors that were working auditions that day were surprised about a few things: for starters, what was I doing there on the one snow day of the entire school year? And how could I carry all that percussion? It's been a year and a half now, as I am now halfway through my sophomore year of Music Education already. Even at this point of my Music Education career, I've learned many things that are as follows.
Transitioning Into A Growth Mindset
I'll start off by discussing one of the hardest things to do as not only a musician, but as a person. It is also one of the most important things to do. I say this because as a musician, it can be very hard to develop yourself if you are stuck in the mindset of "I want to be better, but I can't be better." If you continue to dwell on how much you are struggling or where your musicianship is at, you won't be able to look forward and focus on what you need to improve in order to get better and "grow." This brings me to my next point.
Don't Compare Yourself
One of the biggest things that can feed the fixed mindset is comparing yourself to other musicians. You meet people that play the same instrument as you and have practiced more and are just simply at a higher musicianship level than you. This sounds grim when thinking about it like this; however, it doesn't have to end there. That's what's important about transitioning into a growth mindset as quickly as you can. The eagerness to improve and to learn at the art of music is what should drive you to attend a music school. Not everyone is going to pick up conducting at the snap of a finger, or teach a listening class from the start. What would be the objective of school if you knew everything already?
Everyone Is At A Different Place
It's true that one has to be at a certain level of skill to make it into a particular conservatory or school of music; however, this doesn't mean that everyone is necessarily at the same place musically. Some folks can easily identify a second inversion half-diminished seventh chord by ear, whereas others may not be able to even identify a perfect fifth by ear. It's the same thing at the musical level. Some may have experience with performances and gigs around the area, and they have tons of performance/teaching experience, while some may have not gotten to explore the areas of their communities and find ways to perform or teach outside of their own high school. Yes, you have to audition and pass a theory diagnostic of some sort, but everyone is aiming to improve in their art. It's important to note that everyone is at a different place in their musical pursuits, and it's even more important to be mindful and understanding if one is thriving or struggling in a particular area of their studies.
For those who are struggling in a particular area of music, do not despair. Just remember that you're at school to learn, and if you aren't understanding concepts, time and resources are a good place to turn to. Find a tutor, ask for help, and commit some time to these ideas so that you can improve upon them.
For those who are striving in a particular area of music, keep it up. But don't lose focus. It can be easy to slip through the cracks if you feel like you are on top of things, but you can never be too sure. Also, help people. You are a music educator. It's your time to bring your knowledge to a different realm: teaching. Nothing is more beneficial to you and your colleagues than to help someone who is struggling, for it'll not only help them understand the concepts better but it'll help you also.thriving or struggling in a particular area of their studies.
You Have To Practice
For some folks, this is a no-brainer; for other folks, like myself, this is a revelation to reckon with. Many of the practicing methods of music education students can be different. Some people might have practiced 10-20 hours a week in their high school years, while others may have only practiced two to eight hours a week. Nevertheless, practicing time definitely has to increase in college, especially because you have to make more time for other non-primary instruments along the way.
You are attending school to be a music teacher, but you also chose to specialize in your particular instrument or voice type. Because of this, you have a firm obligation to improve upon yourself with your instrument or voice. It also would be beneficial for your private lessons with your private instructors to have practiced plenty beforehand, so that you can come in to your lesson with high level questions about the work you are doing.
Take Care Of Yourself
This is just a basic principle of making sure you're well while crafting music. No matter what you're doing, whether it be studying for a theory exam or practicing, make sure you're taking care of yourself physically and mentally. You obviously can't practice if you're straining yourself too much, so stagger your practice time accordingly; you also don't want to lose your mind over schoolwork, so do what you would for practicing: piece by piece everyday so that you're not doing tons of work in one night, but still producing.