February 2018

Tips for the Summer Before College

Moving up to college can mean major life changes for many students, and the time between accepting your placement in the spring and heading to the campus in late summer or fall goes by quickly. And while the school’s administrator will offer plenty of information about what to bring, where to go, and how to move in, we asked some experts to suggest some additional pre-college strategies that can help music students get their college careers started as smoothly as possible.

“In addition to attending any summer orientation session a college or university might offer, I recommend that students develop a schedule in the summer that includes sufficient sleep, exercise, and a healthy diet, and start envisioning themselves as successful college students truly engaged in their academic and creative pursuits.”—Nikki Stoia, University of Massachusetts Amherst

“Study theory. Practice for the “piano proficiency” test. Continue with a practice schedule, and start (or continue) taking private lessons.”— Sarah Davis, Belmont University

“Every college or university popular music program I know of requires students to learn how to read standard music notation. It’s a useful skill. If an incoming student doesn’t already know how to do so, I’d recommend using an online resource to begin to learn how to do so before beginning his or her studies on campus.”— Dr. David Lee Fish, Catawba College

“If [you] haven’t had the opportunity to study music theory, it would be very helpful to pick up some theory training over the summer. This could be incorporated with piano lessons—it’s also helpful to gain some keyboard experience —or [you] could look for online resources. We have a Music Theory Help Site that offers self-directed study. Instrumental students should be sure their equipment is in top playing condition before the school year begins. It is generally inconvenient to deal with repair or maintenance issues once the semester begins. Also, they should stock up on supplies —reeds, strings, valve oil, etc. Most of our faculty reach out to the incoming students to let them know what kind of materials and accessories they should have for applied lessons, such as a metronome, tuner, etc. This is worth checking into if they haven’t heard from the faculty. For a student considering any significant purchases before school, like an instrument, mouthpiece, bow, etc., the appropriate faculty member should be consulted for recommendations and preferences.”— Bradley Wong,
Western Michigan University

“Check out any activities that your institution is offering over the summer—there may be guest lectures and seminars, open days, short courses, and summer schools. This could be a great way to get to know current and prospective students and faculty. Take time to visit the campus and explore the local area so that you know what amenities are available to you when you arrive. Also, ask your institution for copies of all reading and equipment lists so that you can begin preparing to study early. And make sure you sign up to social media accounts and networks so that you keep up to date with news and events.”— Helen Angove , DIME Denver

“I recommend that students spend the summer relaxing—it is important to take the break, after all—in addition to reviewing the information that the college sends them. Many schools will email information that require action by the student and/or parents. Additionally, information is likely to be sent on placement exams and auditions, and it is important for students to take the time review the information and refresh their knowledge in those areas so that they are prepared to succeed during the orientation and audition period before classes begin.”— Jason E. Smith, San Francisco Conservatory of Music