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Training to be a better musician is all about consistency and discipline. But what happens when our schedules are radically changed by the coming school year? We want to help you make the transition into the school year right. By following these eight pieces of advice, you can get the ball rolling into the new semester and not lose any progress you’ve been making during the summer. It’s hard enough to be a Christian musician without dealing with math homework and term papers. Let us help you find a way to succeed this coming school year.
Shake Off the Rust
Once the first of August rolls around, it’s time to start thinking about the school year. Even if your classes don’t start until September, you’ll want to use the month to adjust to a new schedule and begin making arrangements for the next semester of your education. When moving from a mostly duty-free summer into a more rigorous schedule, we know just how difficult it can be to shake off the rust. Hopefully you’ve spent the summer season practicing your instrument and honing your skills, as well as keeping a fairly normal routine. The first month or so of school can be hard on students who built up two months of not going to bed until the AM and sleeping in until noon. Adjust to change as quickly as you can and don’t let your studies fall by the wayside.
Make a Plan
Do you know what happens to people who don’t make a plan? They walk right into easily avoidable problems. The learning process is more fun and rewarding when we set specific, achievable goals for ourselves. This way we can know that progress is being made and celebrate the little victories along the way. Like with most things, it’s possible to overplan your life. Some people want to know what they are doing every half-hour they’re awake, while others just want to have a rough idea of what the day holds. Find out what kind of plan works best for your personality and the tasks you need to accomplish. Discipline at any reasonable level is better than nothing.
Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing
A Christian musician has so many things to balance when it comes to the average school year. You’ve got classes, clubs, sports, church, relationships, and, of course, your music. It’s easy to let one or more of these areas suffer throughout the course of a semester. You need to decide what are the priorities and what are secondary pursuits. Grades and God are easily important, but after those things, how will you be spending your time and energy? Remember to keep the main thing the main thing.
Use Networking Opportunities
Unlike the summer, your school year provides the chance to be around students with similar interests, as well as great resources, for several hours a day. It may surprise a young person to know that this isn’t all that common for adults. Take advantage of the networking opportunities you have today to improve as a musician and maybe even plant seeds for your future career. Whether you’re in middle school, high school, or college, there are fellow musicians around you who would love to jam out or start a band. You may even want to get pointers from your band teacher or some other school official with worthwhile experience. Academics may be the most important part of school, but they certainly aren’t the only thing worth your time.
Take Advantage of Down Time
Depending on the instrument you play and what your home/school situation is like, you may find it possible to practice your musicianship at a moment’s notice. If you’re waiting for your ride to pick you up after school or you have a free period to do what you like, this could be a great time for an impromptu practice session. The school year is full of moments like these where you can fit in some extra work (or just finish school assignments you’ve been pushing off). Even at home you should try to fit in some time with your instrument. Put down the controller and turn off the TV so you can be sure to get in the practice you need.
Don't Be a Christian Musician in Name Only
As much as we care about your skills as a musician, what’s more important is that you take your faith seriously. With the school year starting up, you’re going to be inundated with all kinds of textbooks, required reading, and projects. When you’re not working hard in the classroom or on the practice field, you’re likely to spend your time relaxing and goofing off. That’s all great, just don’t lose sight of what matters most. As a Christian musician, your music is an act of worship and gratitude for the skills you’ve been given. Whether or not you want to play music that is strictly Christian, you should try to view music as an outlet for what you believe.
Adopt the Right Attitude for Learning
One of several keys for being a good student and a great musician is to be teachable. The guy who always thinks he’s the smartest one in the room, the one who doesn’t need to study or practice anything, he’s pretty much reached his full potential (and not in a good way). Unless you’re willing to put in the work and open your mind to new information, learning will always be difficult for you. For your scholastic future, as well as your career prospects going forward, we want to encourage you to be teachable in all disciplines.
The saying goes that if you’re a jack of all trades, you’ll be a master of none. While it’s true that you should focus on a few things rather than trying to be an expert in everything, there’s a reason why the education system likes to give students a well-rounded experience. Exposure to different subjects and ways of thinking allows us to broaden our horizons and enjoy a fuller worldview. As you begin the school year, don’t completely shut yourself off to the wealth of knowledge waiting for you out there.
For every Christian musician facing another year at school, we hope the very best things will come your way during this time period. You should grow in immeasurable ways, create lasting friendships, and pursue truth and knowledge wherever you can. We believe these eight tips will help you navigate that path and set you up for a promising new year.
Camp Electric exists to help each young Christian musician learn from the best in the business and connect faith with the music he or she loves to play. Find out how you can become our next student by clicking on the link below.