Succeeding in music school is hard enough on its own, and the added stress and commitment of trying to manage your own band or solo music career can be a bit overwhelming. Here are a few tips I’ve learned from personal experience to help you manage your career and your academic responsibilities.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to manage your time. During my first semester at Berklee, I had no schedule or plan and it nearly drove me mad. Download a good calendar app (I’m a fan of Google Calendar as it easily syncs across all of my devices) on your phone or laptop, and add your class schedule, work schedule, and any other responsibilities. Use your calendar to schedule time for homework and practicing. I even recommend scheduling time for lunch and dinner every day. I know it sounds like a lot, but having your day laid out on paper (or smartphone or tablet) definitely helps you have a better grasp on what you need to get done and when it needs to be done."Download a good calendar app and add all of your responsibilities." @mjh_guitarist Click To Tweet
With school, work, homework, and practicing, it’s very easy to forget to respond to emails and social media messages. It’s helpful to schedule some time each day for these tasks. If remembering to post something on your or your band’s social media accounts (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) every couple of days is hard for you (as it is for me), I encourage you to download a social media management app. It will help you keep track of all of your social accounts, and also allow you to schedule posts in advance. As a musician, it’s important to have social interactions and presence with your fans so that you avoid becoming a “social ghost.” For more about social media best practices for musicians, see these tips from Berklee Online music business instructor Jay Coyle.
Don’t Overwork Yourself
When you’re studying your passion in school, it’s really easy to say yes to every opportunity that comes your way. However, that is usually not the best idea. If you try to do everything you possibly can do, you’re going to end up overworked and burnt out. It’s okay to say no! If your justification for adding another project is, “It’s okay, I’ll just sleep less,” then you definitely should not do it.
While you’re in school, don’t let a mediocre opportunity get in the way of your school work. You have to balance the benefits and the costs. If your friend asks you to play a gig at a small venue when you already have an abundance of homework and two other gigs that week, it likely wouldn’t be in your best interest to say yes."Don’t let a mediocre opportunity get in the way of school. It’s okay to say no!" @mjh_guitarist Click To Tweet
Another tip: Unless you’re offered a spot opening for a famous act or performing as part of a big tour such as Warped Tour, do not take a gig during midterms or finals week. Remember, you or your parents are paying a lot of money for you to be in school. Respect that, and always put 110% into your school work.
Don’t Forget to Relax
At the end of the day after you’ve gone to three classes, done two hours of homework, practiced for four hours, and maybe even played a gig, it’s vital to get a good night’s sleep. In addition to not overworking yourself, take time to relax and enjoy your hobbies. Personally, I love playing video games. After all of my work is done, I unwind by sitting on my couch and playing Mario Kart.
Make time for your friends, too. Go out for dinner on a weekend or go get coffee between classes, but don’t let your friendships fall to the wayside. Your friends and classmates are some of your best connections, especially at a music school. You never know who is going to be “the next big thing” and call you for a gig."Your friends and classmates are some of your best connections." @mjh_guitarist Click To Tweet