Back to College with Virginia Kerr
It’s that time of year again when music departments throughout the world hustle and bustle with excitement as a new generation of musical talent enters their hallowed halls for the first time. For many the experience can be quite daunting, however, we have Irish soprano and vocal teacher Virginia Kerr on hand to offer her top tips for music students trying to find their feet at third level.
You will create a network of people and relationships while in college and many of these people will be with you for much of your professional life."
Self-care is extremely important as you negotiate this new way of life. Make sure the basics are looked after, such as sufficient sleep, proper food and enough exercise. If these crucial needs are addressed then it will make everything else much easier. If you find yourself getting stressed out then try to identify the triggers. Once you recognise the stressors, you can then do something to alleviate them. External triggers could be relationships, family stuff etc…, while internal triggers could be that your expectation of yourself is too high at this point in time. Watch the coffee intake, as too much can cause anxiety and insomnia. For the singers out there, remember that coffee is a throat irritant! There are many ways to manage stress if you are experiencing it and lots of help available. Don’t get discouraged. Understand that there is a lot to learn and that it is going to take time. Acknowledge that you have that time and trust yourself and your own abilities. There will be times that you will have to stretch yourself and move out of your comfort zone, but keep your focus and you may find it exhilarating. Don’t be afraid to investigate change if things are not working out with a teacher.
IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO SHARE YOUR PROBLEMS. YOU DONT HAVE TO STRUGGLE ON ALONE.
Try to be disciplined in your approach to your studies and your student life. Create a balance for yourself and make sure you have lots of down time as well. Although, don’t stay out all night just because you can! Remember a balanced life is a happy life!
Be careful with your finances and do a budget for the days, weeks, and months ahead. If you need to get a part-time job then see if you can get something in the artistic field, such as an usher in a concert hall or theatre. Be careful that your part-time work doesn’t get in the way of your studies, otherwise it defeats the purpose of you being in college in the first place.
6. LEARN THE BUSINESS
There will be lots of opportunities in music college to learn about how the music business works. Avail of these opportunities, as they will be invaluable to you in future years. These may include: how to negotiate with promoters, agents, opera houses, or dealing with the financial side of things such as VAT, taxes in different countries, percentages for agents, writing up CVs, presenting yourself at interviews, auditions and meetings. All these things may seem to be very far into the future, but time passes very quickly and this is the time to start preparing yourself.
You have been given a great gift. Look after it, use it wisely and it will repay you a thousand times. College is about learning, not only about music but also about life. Enjoy this precious time. Be a good colleague; invest in your relationships with your teachers who are there to help you, and with your peers who are probably feeling just as insecure and overwhelmed as you are even though they may not show it in the same way.
BE TRUE TO YOURSELF AND HAVE FUN!
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