Monday, January 04, 2016

What to do in college

Wow, a whole month without any posts. Let's eaaase back into blogging after having returned from Europe with a wicked case of the flu: here's Advice To A College Music Student, by Michael D'Angelo. Here are the bullet points, which are pretty self-explanatory by themselves, but do go read the whole piece:

1) Your professional career starts as soon as you step foot on campus     
2) Be prepared 
3) Be reliable 
4) Practice your ass off
Remember, at some point in their lives, everybody good practiced 4-12 hours a day, every day, for a period of years. College is the best time to do a good chunk of that.

5) Record yourself often 
6) Listen 

7) Don’t get discouraged 
As Brad Pitt said in Moneyball, It's a process, it's a process, it's a process. Other students may be further along in their development, and progress faster than you, but that doesn't mean they're going to be better than you forever. Or even if they are, it doesn't mean they're going to be a better artist than you, or have a better career. You're young. Lots of things are going to happen with your development, and the other guy's, in the first 5-10 years you're out of school, much less the 50-75 years you hopefully have left to live. All you have to do is keep going, and not get complacent.

8) Save everything 
9) Perform as much as possible 
It's a three-legged stool: play, listen, practice. Sorry for the tired metaphor.

10) Get out of your comfort zone 
11) Don’t be afraid to ask for help 
12) Last but certainly not least, have fun
Do I have to tell you not to live in a Whiplash-style tent of fear and alienation? You are allowed and encouraged to do a certain amount of college stuff. Have a girlfriend. Check yourself if you can't stop drinking once you start, and avoid heavier, non-psychedelic, drugs— if I may completely frank. Stay away from people with predatory attitudes towards women. Do not become, or continue to be, a bro. Go to movies on campus, read some new books, work on evolving your sense of art and humor.

I would add, remember that college is college. It's not real life. Don't mistake college reality for real reality, and don't get too comfortable merely excelling at being a student. You have to embrace it enough to learn the stuff they're trying to teach you, and not be miserable for 4-6 years, but eventually you have to get tired of it and want to do something else. Personally, I embraced it to the absolute minimum possible, and probably didn't learn as much as I should've as a result. Other people I know embraced it too much, and are still working in the same building 20+ years later.

This also means that how you do in college is not necessarily reflective of how you're going to do in life. When you're out putting together a career, none of the people you hit it off with are going to give a shit if you ate it on Ballad For The Dance on fall juries your junior year.

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