Life After Music School
Throughout my studies, teachers and more experienced guitarists always told me to take advantage of the time I had in school, because after that, practicing and learning pieces gets harder and harder. But no one ever really explains why. I always thought between the various classes I had to take and other projects, life after school couldn’t be too much different. Now after almost a year of teaching, it all makes sense to me. After hours of teaching and playing (even if simple one line pieces or simple pop songs), when I’m home I often feel like the last thing I want to do is play more guitar. There is certainly an adjustment period of getting used to the work schedule and practicing for yourself.
I know we all aspire to be traveling musicians, performing in amazing venues, and supporting ourselves with concerts. But the reality is very few people can earn their living this way alone. More than likely, teaching is needed to supplement what performance opportunities we are given. Here are a few tips I suggest for current students studying music.
Learn the pieces you want to while you can. While in school, even though there are general guidelines as to what to play, often times your teacher allows you to pick the pieces you would like to learn. Take advantage of that. Many of the pieces you learn in school stay with you forever. And since it gets harder to practice and learn after school, learn what you want to now while you have the time to do it. Also, often times for performance opportunities, the piece is already chosen, and you’ll have to learn that as opposed to a piece maybe you’ve always wanted to play.
Get used to the mornings. I have never been a morning person. While in school, my best practices were in the evening, when I felt more alive and productive. Now I’m often done teaching late in the evening, then I need to eat dinner, and by the time I would be ready to get a practice in, it’s far too late. Life after school often doesn’t afford you the luxury of private practice rooms, especially if you live with roommates or spouses or have a family by then. More than likely your teaching schedule starts in the afternoon and goes to the evening when kids get out of school or some of the adults get off of work. Therefore, the morning becomes your best option for practicing. This is something I’m still trying to get used to, so I suggest experimenting with morning practices now.