So you Had a Bad Lesson…
It’s the day of your lesson. You get into your professor’s room, you start to play through your difficult repertoire, and it all goes out the window. For some reason, even though you practiced all week, it’s not showing in your lesson.
I know how soul-crushing this can be. As a graduate student, I’ve had my fair share of “bad” lessons in the 14 years I’ve been playing violin. Here is my advice to anyone going through something like this:
First, let yourself feel whatever you feel. If you need to cry it out, then do it! If you need a break from the practice rooms, take the break. Try not to beat yourself up. As musicians, I think we forget that music and performing is hard. It’s a lot of intellectual work; figuring out minute changes in our posture to improve our performance, trying to deduce what fingering or bowing works where and why, and listening to recordings of yourself playing to analyze what worked and what didn’t... It takes a lot of time, effort and energy to be a musician.
Second, decide whether you want to involve your professor or not. It is totally up to you whether you want to talk about this with your professor, but I always recommend being open about things like this because at the end of the day, your professor is there to help you out. We are musicians, but we are also human; we can’t be motivated 24/7 to practice and get everything done.
Third, make a plan for the next lesson. What made it a ‘bad’ lesson? Did you not feel prepared for it? Is the music you are learning overwhelming you? Are you sick and not feeling well? Once you can pinpoint exactly what went wrong, you can make sure the next lesson goes well.
I spent way too much of my undergraduate years being afraid of my violin professor and my lessons. It took me two years into my undergraduate studies to realize that my professors are there to help me improve my technique, and not to make me feel bad if I make a mistake in the lesson. And once I realized this, I improved much faster because I was no longer stressed at every lesson.
Day in the Life of a First-Year Music+ Major
When I applied to the University of Illinois, I knew that I wanted to major in Music Psychology, but I had only found two undergraduate programs in the country that offered anything of the sort. UIUC was one, which offered a broader, student-led course structure than anywhere else I had researched. I simply had to attend.
I’ve been doing a lot of “stress thinking” as we enter midterm season, especially about how to study. A lot of research has shown that changing up the place or environment in which you study can be more effective than any amount of cramming. But when there are busy schedules and rehearsals which are central to Krannert and The Music Building, a change of place can be hard to find. That doesn’t mean we can’t rotate, though!
Combating Imposter Syndrome
At some point in their college career (or afterward), most people experience some form of imposter syndrome, or the feeling that they’re a fraud/don’t deserve their successes. As a woman, in a major comprised primarily of men, this feeling is all too familiar to me. It’s hard sometimes to not doubt yourself and your skills, but over the years I’ve found there are ways to make imposter syndrome feel a little less overwhelming.
You did it! You’re done! You’ve made it through the college visits, prospective lessons, pre-screening tapes, and auditions! Now, before you go and do anything else, congratulate yourself and take some time to relax. You have made it through the most difficult part of the music school admissions process and you deserve a break.
Then, before you know it, the acceptance letters start coming in and you are forced to start deciding where your home will be for the next two to four years. Although this may seem like a daunting decision, it can actually become quite easy if you consider three important factors when weighing offer letters and schools against one another. In my experience, the three most important things to consider are location & community, your primary teacher, and the cost.
Music Technology: What Is It?
Hi! My name is Brigid Young, and I’m currently a junior studying Music Technology. I switched into this major during my second semester of freshman year, and even when applying to switch, I didn’t really know what the major entailed. Whenever I tell people I study music tech, they usually have no idea what I’m talking about. So, I figured that I could tell you exactly what the curriculum looks like, and maybe you’ll end up majoring in it too!
Day in the Life of a Violin Major
Hello readers! This is my first post, and I wanted to start with something simple: my typical Thursday. It’s more entertaining than it sounds, I promise.
Like the teenager I am, I woke up at the early hour of noon and grabbed some classic chicken and rice from the dining hall. After freshening up and a short walk to the Krannert Center, it was time for rehearsal! I’m a member of an ensemble called Chamber Orchestra. However, violins are not needed for the opera we are performing, so on those rehearsal days, we also get to play in the String Orchestra. Both are super fun and high-performing groups. We played two different pieces, Serenade by Josef Suk, and Starburst by Jessie Montgomery. A fun bit of information, Josef Suk was the great-grandson of the highly esteemed composer Dvorak. I originally met him when I was 6 years old during a violin trip to Prague.
Finding Home On Campus
I’ve lived my whole life in the state of Connecticut surrounded by water, seafood, and the 2-hour drive to New York. From the beginning, I knew of the vast and obvious differences between Illinois and Connecticut, but settling onto campus reminded me of them every day. It was difficult for me to situate myself when I was so used to the hustle and bustle and was too occupied missing my home and family. It was then, like a slap to my face, I recognized the reality of going to college: finding and creating a new home.