Since I came here to study, every week I have had a full schedule of coursework plus practicing and performances, which from time to time make me feel overwhelmingly tired. I often reflect on my daily routine and effectiveness and try to think of more ways to increase productivity. So far, in addition to the clichéd “time management,” I have discovered four must-have skills that are essential for improving efficiency.
1. Being friends with technology devices
For me, making good use of various electronic devices (of course, not abusing, scrolling social media, or things like that) is a great way to increase efficiency. In the past, when I was studying for my undergraduate degree, whether it was music scores or class handouts, I basically would print them out to read from hard copies, since staring at electronic screens all the time would be harmful to my eyes. However, after starting my master's study, classes have become more in-depth, in which I have to read more and more class materials and scores; therefore, I finally decided to buy a tablet. In the beginning, I was not familiar with the various functions and not used to the touch of writing and taking notes on the screen. After getting more acquainted with it, I gradually found that using it not only saved printing costs but became more convenient for categorizing the files and finding the keywords, which merely by searching it, I can locate where the exact contents are. Moreover, when playing the piano in cooperation with other instruments, the score is often full of notes, so there is no time for me to manually turn the score. At this time, I discovered the benefits and importance of the combination of the tablet with the score-turning pedal, which eliminates the interruption of manually flipping the score and will not ruin the progress of the music. Although this skill may seem somewhat ridiculous, it is very important for music students.
2. Library search and academic writing
As mentioned earlier, the things learned in graduate degrees are more in-depth and academic, and writing papers and giving presentations in class happens more frequently. To make a report, presentation, or article more professional, it is necessary to do sufficient related research in advance, and the library is a good place to find sources. There are many high-quality libraries in the school with rich collections, such as the Main Library and the Funk Library, which are relatively close to the music building. Besides those, I also frequently visit the Music and Performing Arts Library (MPAL), which is located inside the music building. There are plenty of documents, audiotapes, and references on the first floor, and a variety of musical scores on the second floor. For music students, it has almost everything. The online searching system is also very convenient. As an international student who is not a native English speaker, I am not very proficient in English academic writing, especially with essay structure or the use of words. They are very different from Chinese writing structures, so I need to practice more. For that reason, I also participate in some academic writing workshops provided by the school, in order to make progress on my writing skills.
Due to the blog length, the other two skills will be revealed in the next article.
- Chin-Hsuan Sharon Cheng
就像先前提到的，研究生生涯學的東西更加深入也更加學術性，平常上課寫小篇論文或是上台報告的機率也越來越高。要讓報告或文章更專業，勢必要提前做許多功課和相關研究，此時圖書館就是找資料的好去處。學校內還有很多優質的圖書館，像是離音樂館比較近的Main Library和Funk Library等等，館藏都很豐富，而位在音樂館建築物裡的MPAL，裡面一樓是各種文獻和資料庫，二樓則是各式各樣的樂譜，對音樂學生而言幾乎是應有盡有，線上查詢系統也非常方便，成為我常去的地方之一。另外，因為身為不是英文為母語的國際學生，我對英文學術寫作還沒有到非常純熟，尤其是寫作架構和用字的部分，都跟中文不太一樣，非常需要加強練習。我有時會報名學校提供的學術寫作工作坊，希望在這方面越來越得心應手，有所進步。
- Chin-Hsuan Sharon Cheng