Words of Wisdom

Hi everyone! Welcome to another exciting year in the Department of Music. As I enter the fourth and final year of my BMus in Voice Performance I am realizing what a whirlwind of an experience I've had. Being a music student is amazing, challenging, sometimes confusing, definitely frustrating, but most of all fulfilling. It is an incredible thing to be able to study and share the one thing that we love most with each other: Music.
To help you navigate through this experience, here are some words of wisdom from current and past students of the Department of Music:

Here's to a great year!

Louise Ashdown, President of the MSA

Words of Wisdom

A compilation of Helpful Hints and Tips from current and past Music students of U of A

  1. Take the time to read and, most importantly, understand your course syllabus. More often than not, many answers can be found in it.
  2. Sometimes stepping away for 15-30 minutes will do wonders for your concentration, especially when things don't seem to go right. We have the Edmonton River Valley at our doorstep so take advantage of it!
  3. Make time to see your pals and go to GMSA and MSA events.
  4. Know why you're here and set goals for yourself.
  5. Get an agenda!! The best thing you can do at the start of a term is enter all the important dates for your classes in an agenda to keep track of, so that nothing catches you by surprise.
  6. Just join something. No matter what it is! Getting out of the music department does a person good every now and then.
  7. If you are struggling in any way, know that there are many great resources at the University that can help you and that there are so many people here that love and support you. Don't be afraid to reach out.
  8. Make friends with teachers, faculty and staff. They have insight that is very valuable.
  9. Set time aside to focus on your music daily. Change what or how you work on a piece each time you do so that you don't feel like you're draining yourself out on the same thing every time.
  10. Have emergency snacks and water with you so you don't die when you have to unexpectedly stay late and practice.
  11. If you are going to practice late, make sure you have another person with you so you're not alone.
  12. Don't procrastinate doing MacGamut.
  13. Always, always, ALWAYS close the practice room doors behind you and never let in strangers. These rooms are for music students only.
  14. If you hear about something for free and have some time, consider checking it out.
  15. Definitely always bring a pencil to rehearsals. Definitely. Always. Definitely.
  16. Keep several pencils in all pockets of everything you own (This includes backpacks, purses, hoodies, coats, binders etc.). Coloured erasable pens and highlighter are the greatest for marking in your own music for lessons. Coloured dividers are another great option.
  17. Learn to acknowledge when you have too much on your plate and how to say no. You should take as many opportunities as mentally and physically possible but keep in mind you're not a machine and you have four years.
  18. There are two commandments for music students: Practice every day and check your emails at least three times a day.
  19. At the start of the year, write down what you love about music and why you've enrolled. When the going gets tough (because between the stress of schoolwork and doubt about the 'real-world' legitimacy of your major, it will!) pull out the list and remind yourself why you're here.
  20. Asking for help is never a sign of weakness. Everyone here wants you to succeed so if you need a hand, ask for it.
  21. The best thing you can do is make friends! Collaborate and share rather than compete and compare.
  22. Check out all the Music Department's ensembles and be involved in them in any way you can (perform, attend concerts, fund-raise, etc.) They all have something unique to offer.
  23. Find your balance. It's important to take care of your body and mind as easy as it is to forget about yourself amidst practicing and keeping up with normal homework, work and ensembles. This might mean getting a bit more sleep or making time for yoga, but whatever it is, prioritize your sanity before you feel yourself getting overwhelmed.
  24. The library is your friend, the librarians are your friends, and the music area of the North Rutherford library…can be your friend granted that you ask for help so you don't get lost.
  25. Recognize that while sometimes you may doubt your abilities, you got yourself into this program and so obviously your teachers saw something in you. Trust them in that choice, and snuff out those thoughts of self-doubt and the existential crises we all experience by knowing that even if you don't see your full potential yet, they do.

It is an incredible thing to be able to study and share the one thing that we love most with each other; Music. Exciting!