How to Survive College Band Camp

It’s August, and that means that the new marching season is almost here. I marched in my university band in college. Through my time in band, I have learned a little about how to survive college band camp.

Killer Harmony | How to Survive College Band Camp | With the month of August comes another year of band camp. Marching band can be a lot of work, so here are some tips for getting through it easily!

Band camp can be exhausting, but it is necessary to prepare for the semester ahead. Most college marching bands memorize all of their music, and it can be hard to do that without an extra week of focused practice and rehearsals.

Here are some of my tips and tricks and well as the gear you need to survive marching band camp.

1. Have a water bottle at all times.

Whether you are rehearsing outside or inside, you need to be drinking water as much as you can. In most parts of the country, August is a hot month. If you are outside without drinking enough water, you can suffer from dehydration and other health problems.

If you are worried about more trips to the bathroom, you will sweat enough, so that shouldn’t be a problem. So show up to rehearsals and sectionals with a full water bottle.

Odds are, there will be a jug of water that you can refill from, but you shouldn’t rely on the band to provide water for you. Come prepared.

2. Use sun protection.

It doesn’t matter if you have light or dark skin, you need to protect yourself from the sun. Apply sunscreen, wear hat, and put on some protective clothing.

If you are outside during peak sun hours, this is even more important. The last thing you want, aside from dehydration, is a bad sunburn. It can be easily avoided with the proper precautions.

I was a little lazy with this last year, but don’t follow my lead. It takes a couple of minutes to apply a layer of sunscreen, and a hat should be worn anyway.

3. Use the best instrument you can.

While you definitely should save your highest quality instrument for inside, don’t neglect your marching instrument. If you will be marching with your own instrument, make sure it doesn’t need any repairs.

If you have to march with a school owned instrument, get to campus and check in with the band as soon as you can so that you can try multiple instruments and get the one you want.

The good school instruments go first, so you don’t want to be stuck with the cheapest one that hasn’t been repaired in years. The better your instrument, the easier the season will go.

4. Get enough sleep.

It can be tempting to spend your late nights watching Netflix, but try and sleep at a reasonable time. Odds are you will have to wake up pretty early for band camp, and your day will be long.

You don’t have to go to bed as soon as the day is done, but shoot for about 8 hours of sleep if you can. Band camp is tiring, and the heat doesn’t help. Take advantage of your time and sleep.

Your body will thank you.

5. Eat enough.

If you live on campus, you probably won’t have access to dining services just yet. You might have to eat take out for a few days, but make sure you do eat something.

Food is fuel, and you need that fuel to keep you going during a whole day of rehearsals and sectionals. Don’t hesitate to pack a small snack bar in your bag in case you get hungry. You can then eat it quickly during a break.

Even if you don’t feel hungry, you still need to eat enough food for your body. If you can eat healthy foods, great. If not, do your best to eat foods that will fill you up and give you energy.

6. Use your breaks wisely.

This goes off of the tip for sleep above. If you have a lunch or dinner break, enjoy your time off, but be smart. When you have some time on your hands, see if you can work on memorizing a section of your music.

While sectionals are devoted to memorizing music, you can’t work too much on memorizing. One thing I did during sectionals was play from memory even when I didn’t “have” to.

If we had one more chance to look at the music, I would still try to play as much from memory as I could. That helped solidify the music for me, and I was able to play it with more confidence.

7. Know where you can/want to store your instrument.

If you will be marching piccolo or another small instrument, you can use your own bag or backpack. Some larger instruments might even have their own storage closet.

However, if you will be marching saxophone or mellophone, or another midsize instrument, have a plan for storing your instrument. Will you keep it in your dorm? Can you check out a locker in the music building?

Also be flexible. The layout of my university’s campus had my dorm much closer to the stadium, with the music building a bit out of the way. If I had to start at the stadium, I would make sure to have my piccolo in my room the night before so that I wouldn’t have to waste time going to the music building.

8. Have fun!

Band camp is an amazing way to make friends and have fun playing music. Marching band is a lot of work, but the social aspect (and the music), makes it worth it.

I know that when I was new to campus, band camp allowed me to meet a lot of people that would later be in some of my other classes. Those friendly faces made the semester go much easier.

So, have fun!

So…

Have you gone to college band camp before? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments!

And don’t forget to subscribe for music tips sent straight to your inbox!

Subscribe!

* indicates required



Back to School Tips

August is here which means so is Back to School season! Even though I am not in school anymore, it is still an exciting time for everyone. I always loved going shopping for school supplies and preparing for the year ahead.

Killer Harmony | Back to School Tips | August is an exciting time for music majors. You have auditions coming up, a new schedule, and more. Here's how to prepare now so you won't stress later.

Now that I have completed my undergraduate degree in music, I am going to share some tips to make going back to school (for musicians) just a little bit easier.

These tips can be applied no matter you major. If you will be playing music this year, there are tips in this list for you! Without further ado, here are my best back to school tips for musicians!

1. Prepare ASAP.

A new school year means a new schedule and a whole new set of classes to prepare for. If you will be in music theory this year, start brushing up on your theory now. If you have to take a piano class, get out that old keyboard and start working on your scales.

For the band geeks out there, pull out your marching instrument. Because, I know you haven’t touched it since last fall. If you are a returning student, look through your old music to see if you still have some marching music to practice. You can start memorizing the omnipresent fight song now.

Contact your lessons professor about scheduling your lessons. They may not want to think about it now, but you will look interested and more professional. Your professor might even think about you and schedule your lesson in your favor.

The sooner you start preparing, the less you will have to stress when you move in and the start of classes arrives.

2. Take your instrument to the shop.

If you haven’t done so this summer, now is the time to take your instrument in for regular maintenance. Once the semester starts, you probably won’t have the time or money to be without your instrument for long.

The more you play your instrument, the more it will need basic maintenance from a professional, such as cleaning, oiling, and adjusting. For the vocalists out there, visit a specialist and ask about how you can keep your vocal cords healthy.

The end of the summer is a slow time for everyone, musically. Get your instrument in good repair now, that way you won’t have to be without it during the semester.

3. Look at new repertoire.

If you have not chosen pieces for the semester yet, here is your chance. Don’t wait for your professor to assign you a new piece. Looking for yourself allows you to listen to a bunch of works and decide what you want to learn.

You will also start the year off on a high note (pun intended) with your professor. Especially if your professor has a lot of students, you will make both of your lives easier if you already know what you want to play.

Having a new piece or two picked out also means that you can get to work during your first lesson instead of spending the time going through a bunch of possible pieces.

4. Check your schedule.

Make sure you are enrolled in everything you need to be. As a music major, there are some classes that you need to take each semester. Lessons, ensembles, and music recital attendance are required by a lot of schools, and you enroll in all of them like a normal class.

If you are not enrolled in these types of courses, you won’t get the credit you need. If you need any or all of these classes for a scholarship, it is even more important that you enroll in what you need to.

By checking your schedule now, you also have a slightly better chance of getting into classes you need. If you wait until the semester has started, adding or dropping a course gets much more complicated. Do it now to avoid any issues down the line.

5. Get your books.

This is a pretty general college tip, but you should get your books as soon as possible. For the more academic classes, you will probably use your book regularly. Especially if it’s a workbook.

If you need new music books for your lessons, order them now so they will arrive in time. Playing from copied parts or free downloads is not professional and should be avoided if possible.

The earlier you get your books, the more you can avoid the crowds at the bookstore. That is, if one or more of your books are only available on campus.

You can order your books either through your bookstore or online through Amazon or Chegg. There’s really no excuse to wait.

6. Get a locker.

As soon as you are back on campus, sign up for a locker in the music building. Unless you are a vocalist, you are not going to want to carry all of your music plus your instrument across campus.

Lockers are usually free, and they come in different sizes. If you have a large instrument, or multiple instruments, you want to get in early so that you can get one of those bigger lockers.

Even though I “only” had to store a flute and piccolo along with sheet music, a locker was super helpful. I could store anything music related that would fit and I wouldn’t have to worry about forgetting anything.

7. Sign up for practice slots.

Depending on your school, you may or may not need to do this. If your school schedules out practice rooms, sign up as soon as you can to get your desired schedule.

The longer you wait, the fuller those schedules will become. Wait too long, and you might get stuck with a 7am Monday slot in the room with no piano and terrible ventilation.

If your school does not schedule practice rooms, then you don’t have to worry about this. But if that is the case, try and mold your practice schedule so that you don’t practice during peak times. You might not be able to find a practice room.

So…

Do you have any other tips for musicians going back to school? Let me know in the comments!

And don’t forget to subscribe for awesome music tips and content delivered straight to your inbox!

Give me some tips!

* indicates required



Should You Major in Music?

Choosing any college major is a big deal. You are making the decision to focus on a certain discipline for your college career. That doesn’t mean you must continue in that field for your professional career. Majoring in music is an option at many schools, but it is not easy. A music degree is not just “playing in band every day.”

Killer Harmony | Should You Major in Music? | Should you major in music? There's a lot to think about when choosing what you will focus on in college. Your skills and interests are only the beginning.

There are academic music classes, lessons, ensembles, and general education course that you have to take. Music is one of the most difficult majors you can choose, but it can be well worth the extra work.

It can be hard to know what majoring in music is really like until you get there. As a recent Bachelor of Music graduate, I want to give my thoughts on who should, or should not, major in Music in college.

Why Music?

What is it about music that makes you want to study it? There are many reasons why we pick up an instrument. It is a great way to be creative, you can make some life long friends, and music education can help your skills in other ways.

If you want to major in music, it is good to treat music as more than just a hobby. You don’t have to be practicing in every spare moment of your time. You should, however, be fairly serious about music and your instrument.

Private lessons are important for building your skills outside of your school music program. They also allow you to explore solo music and harness your craft on your own time. While private lessons can get expensive, they are an invest in your music career.

What Other Interests Do You Have?

There is this school of thought that if you enjoy anything else as much as music, then you should pursue that anything else. I don’t fully agree with that idea, but it does have a bit of merit.

If you are interested in an outside field, particularly one that goes well with music, keep that interest around. You can double major or minor in a second field. Doing that builds your marketability for after you graduate.

I chose to add a minor in Spanish, and so I can work with the Spanish language to increase my chances of finding a good job. Complementary majors include communications, business, languages, theatre, and so many others.

What is Your Musical Background?

If you just started learning music for the first time in high school, you probably don’t have enough experience to really flourish as a music major. While I did not start my primary instrument, flute, until then, I had previous experience on piano, violin, and other instruments. I understood music theory, and I knew how to discipline myself to make good progress.

You don’t have to play your instrument for years, but you should have a good grasp of the fundamentals of technique as well as other basics. Knowledge of scales, arpeggios, and a few solos is enough to get you started. Just know that there is a lot of work involved in studying music.

If you go into college with a jumpstart on music theory and some slightly challenging repertoire, it will make your first semester that much easier. Having s strong background in music is also a benefit.

What Do You Want from Music?

What is it about music that you want to achieve? Think about what you might want to do after you graduate. Do you want to perform? Teach? Something else? Narrowing down your long term goals will help you decide what to concentrate on during your time in college.

If you want to try your hand at composing, see if you can take a class or lessons to help you build your portfolio. If performance is your goal, seek out performance and competition opportunities. For future music educators, be sure you are taking all of the required methods courses.

If your goal is to work in arts administration, use your elective credits to take classes in business or even pursue it as a minor.

Music is a tough field to study and make a career in, and it is nice to plan ahead for the future. Being passionate and driven will help you tremendously, and setting goals will give you direction.

What Else?

If you decide now or later that music is not the major for you, you should definitely keep playing. Ask the music department at your college about opportunities for non-majors. You can probably join the large ensemble for your instrument and maybe take lessons, depending on the professor’s load.

It’s not required for you to major in music to keep playing in college.

You do not have to be a professional to play music. There are many amateurs who keep their passion for music alive well past college. I hope that, no matter your career goals, Music will stay a part of your life. There is nothing to be had but benefits.

So…

Are you considering a major  in music? What do you want to know about it? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

Subscribe!

* indicates required



Tales of a College Music Major

Well folks, the time has come. Within a week, I will have gone through my undergraduate commencement. I will officially have a degree in music. I have already finished all of my classes and finals, so I wanted to write about my college experience.

If you will be majoring in music or you just want to learn more about it, I hope I can shed some light on the reality of being a musician. It’s tough, and it will be even tougher in the future, but it is so worth it.

Killer Harmony | Tales from a College Music Major | Majoring in music in college is rough. You have more work than many of your friends, but that work is worth it in the end. Here's my music major experience.

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about my musical background. I had a different musical upbringing, but I managed to thrive throughout my college music career. Here are the details of my college education.

Freshman Year

I started college at a community college, and I began in the college concert band and music theory and ear training. I really enjoyed playing in band for the first time and studying music at an advanced level. Flute lessons were also a part of my schedule.

Sadly, I had to study flute with the saxophone professor, because my school didn’t have a flutist on staff. While I was able to improve and make up for the time I lost by not playing flute earlier, I could have progressed even more if I had a proper instructor.

I also got to take my first, and only, semester of music composition. It was an interesting class, and it got me more interested in composing as part of my career.

Sophomore Year

I had a bit of a setback this year, because my college did not offer the second year theory courses. I would have to transfer or wait to take those classes. At the time, I took this as a sign that I shouldn’t study music. We all know how that went now.

I finished the requirements for an associates degree in liberal arts halfway through my second year. So, I tried my luck and auditioned for a local conservatory. My lack of experience and lack of a proper flute teacher were enough for me to be denied.

I had a moment to cry, but I remembered a state school not too far from home. I then decided to see about studying music there. That February, I auditioned and received a music talent scholarship. I accepted the offer.

That spring, I attended a local university so that I could take a few more advanced classes. It was then that I was able to get experience teaching music and flute to kids. I decided that I really wanted to be a music/flute teacher.

Junior Year

I was finally on my own. It was my first time not living at home. I had a single room on campus, and I was able to study music at a bigger program than before. I struggled with the decision to major in performance instead of music education. Teaching interested me, but I didn’t want to direct ensembles.

I decided on flute performance. It would take a shorter time because there were less requirements, and I could really grow as a flutist. (Yes, I say flutist. I play the flute, not the flaut.)

I was also able to finally take the second year theory and ear training courses as well as music history. It was also my first ever marching band season. Neither my high school nor community college had a football team, and therefore no marching band. Marching was certainly an experience that I don’t regret having, but it was difficult.

My junior year also brought with it my first time performing a solo for flute. I had worked on solos before but never for the purpose of performing them. I was also able to get rid of any stage fright that I had.

Senior Year

I still can’t believe how fast this year came and went. I had a lot of cool stuff happen this year. I gave not one, but two, solo recitals. They were both a lot of work, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

There was a bit of drama during the middle of the year, but I think that I was able to overcome the craziness. Spring break was just what I needed. I also got a bit of a break from music in the form of a minor in Spanish. I’m so glad I added it to my degree.

This year, I only had one real music “class” aside from lessons and ensembles. That was my basic conducting class. It was not basic at all, but it was a senior level course. While I don’t plan on conducting much in the future, I am glad that I can if necessary.

This year was probably my favorite year of college, because I became really close to friends in my dorm as well as other music majors. I know that I will miss it, even though I might not always admit it.

Looking Ahead

My music degree prepared me for more than just music performance. I learned a lot about music and the concepts behind pieces. I learned how to teach flute to others, and I came into my own as a musician.

Lately, I have been contacting places back home for music related jobs. I hope to start a career as a flutist, teacher, composer and writer. Music is my passion and my biggest skill. I hope to use that passion and skill to inspire the next generation of musicians.

So…

Do you have any specific questions about majoring in music? Let me know in the comments and I will cover them in a future post!

Thanks for reading!

What to do During Spring Break

Ah, spring break. It’s a time to take a week off from school and responsibilities, to hang out with friends and to travel, usually. What do you do if you don’t have any plans for travel? Or you can’t afford to go somewhere? There are many things you can do.

Killer Harmony | What to do During Spring Break | Spring break is a great time to go out, but what if you don't have any plans? Here are 7 things you can do for fun from your own home, for free!

While spring break is usually portrayed as a week of fun, you can also spend it working towards your future. There are multiple ways to spend spring break that don’t cost a ton of money or require you to travel.

Here are some of those ideas.

1. Look/Apply for Summer Jobs.

If you plan to work over the summer, now is the time to start looking for those jobs. It can take awhile to get a response from companies, so you don’t want to wait until finals are over to start your applications.

If you will be graduating from college, you should start thinking about what you will be doing after graduation. This could include a job. So take this free week to start your job search.

2. Enroll in Classes.

If you are not graduating, or you will be going to graduate school, you can spend spring break planning out your classes. If you wait too long to enroll, you might not get your first choice schedule.

It obviously won’t take all week to enroll in classes, but you can spend a few hours or a day planning out your schedule. Think of the classes you still need to take, what will be offered next semester, when you want to take those classes, etc.

3. Get Some Sleep.

If you are like most college students, you are probably pretty tired. It doesn’t help that this past weekend, most of the United States moved the clocks forward an hour. We all lost some sleep this weekend, and spring break is the perfect time to get that sleep back.

If you don’t have a your whole break planned out, spend an extra hour each morning getting some sleep. You shouldn’t sleep the day away, but your body will thank you for getting back on track.

Sleep is also a nice way to pamper yourself. There are so many benefits to sleeping, and it can even help you forget about some of the stressful things you have going on, if only for a little while.

4. Catch Up on Homework.

I know, I sound like a nag. But, spending this week catching up on your work is going to make going back to school a breeze. Things come up, and we can easily forget about our homework for a day or two. Use your spring break to catch up, and who knows? Maybe you can get ahead?

Homework is not the most fun thing to do over break, but if you get caught up or even ahead in some classes, you can save yourself a lot of stress later on. You won’t have to worry about staying up at all hours of the night to finish a paper. You can say yes to dinner with friends.

It’s totally worth it. Trust me.

5. Spend Time on a Hobby.

With classes, you don’t have a ton of time left over to do something fun. Use your extra free time to something you enjoy. Pick up a new (or old) hobby.

Go to your local craft store and see what inspires you. Watch some YouTube videos on things that interest you. Start a blog. Check out that new Netflix show everyone is talking about.

Do something that you wouldn’t normally have time to do. You will have fun, get to relax a little and you might even find a new activity that you want to pursue in the future!

6. Have a Spa Day.

Do you have a day with no plans whatsoever? Turn it into a spa day! Break out the soaps, nail polishes and whatever else you want to use. You can make it into a whole day event.

Start with gathering everything you need. You can make some DIY products, like skin masks or bath bombs. Take a bath. Do your nails. See if you have a friend who is free and wants to join. Or, make it a “me day.”

Blast your favorite songs, and just enjoy yourself. You have earned a day off.

7. Do Some Spring Cleaning.

This will work better depending on where you end up over spring break, so this might not apply to everyone. If you will be either in your college dorm or apartment, or you are going home, get in the spirit of spring cleaning.

Get rid of any trash or old stuff you no longer need. Break out the summer clothes. Make a few piles of stuff: trash, keep, donate, etc.

This week is a great time to get organized and refresh before spring is in full gear.

So…

What are you doing for spring break? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter (@HannahHaefele)!

Thanks for reading!

Subscribe!

* indicates required