All Rise Before the Judge (Or the Jury!)

It’s that time of year for every college student: the end of the semester, which means FINAL EXAMS. Final exams are probably the most stressful part of the year for most college students, and at this point, everyone is freaking out. For music students, the problem is not trying to memorize formulas or trying to remember conjugations, but memorizing translations or trying to remember all of your words. That’s right, it’s time for Music Juries.

If you are not a college student or a music student, you probably don’t know what Juries are, so I’ll let you know. Music Juries are a music student’s version of final exams, where we are brought in before a number of music faculty and asked to perform works (the number depends on age) before all of them. This is a huge part of your grade with your applied music lessons and is super scary for most people.

I’m not going to lie, I’m scared out of my mind for my first Jury, but hopefully I have some good tips for anyone having to go through a Music Jury this year.

• If you are a voice student, vocal rest is your best friend. Not saying that you do not need to practice, but when it is possible, try not to talk. You want to be in your best voice for your Jury.
• Other than vocal rest, get lots of actual rest. Being well-rested is extremely important as it will help you with nerves and with the whole process in general.
• Talk to your teacher! Know how the process works before you go in there so you can be super prepared.
• Pick your songs carefully. Try and choose the ones you are most confident with so you can start off strong to give you that extra confidence boost.
• Eat well. Eating well will make you feel more calm and confident when it comes time to get on stage.
• Dress the part. I always feel more confident if I love the outfit I’m in. Just make sure you’re comfortable as well as fabulous.
• Don’t stress too much! Practicing too much can actually mess you up because you might get so obsessed with being perfect that you overload yourself.

Break a leg to anyone who has a Jury this year, or just needs some luck when it comes to exams!

Kat Myers

On the Road Again!

Hey everyone! I’m sorry I missed my last post, the life of a college student never stops, and sometimes things are forgotten. But hopefully this week I will be able to make up for it by posting about our wonderful Meredith Music Department tour to Charlotte and Burlington!

Along with the Meredith Chorale that I am a part of, five other performing ensembles from Meredith came along with us. The first was Sinfonietta, a small chamber orchestra; The Four Winds, the flute ensemble; Octavia, a four-hand piano ensemble made up of four members; and Encore!, the ten to twelve voice acapella group from Meredith. Along with all of these ensembles, we also had two soloists sing a piece from their NATS repitoire. (If you don’t know what NATS is, here’s a link: http://nmtc.nats.org/)

Our first stop was St. John’s Baptist Church in Charlotte for our first concert that was given for Meredith Alumni. This concert was given formally and like any other normal choral performance in our formal dress, with a program set out and specified seating. All of the ensembles performed (except for our soloists), and afterwards we attended a reception that our President, Dr. Jo Allen, attended as well. We got to meet some Charlotte-area alumnae and some perspective students from the Charlotte area and talk to them about how Meredith College life is for us. I especially loved meeting a woman who graduated Meredith in 1941, who told us how much she loved the performance. Meeting someone who still has such a strong connection with Meredith after all these years really warmed my heart.

Yesterday and today, all of our ensembles traveled to different high schools in Charlotte and Burlington. Our first stop in Charlotte was at Ardrey Kell High School, where we performed on the fly, not knowing what order or which songs we were performing. Starting at Ardrey Kell, we had to start adapting to our surroundings and having to change around orders and performances based on what we had available to us in terms of equipment. However stressful that may have been, I really enjoyed traveling to different high schools that I had never seen before and making an impact on their days.

I think traveling is one of my favorite parts of being part of a Meredith Performing Ensemble, because we are able to spread our love of music to people that may have never heard of us before, and now know our name. Meredith Music has a wonderful ability to bring people together, even if those people are from far away.

Have a great week!

Kat

The Importance of Being Earnest (In Your Practicing Habits)

Every music student knows that practice is the most important part of developing skill with your instrument. But more importantly, this practice cannot be just mundane and mindless practice, it must be purposeful, practical and positive practice. See those three P’s? The words “purposeful”, “practical” and “positive” are your new best friends! If you sit in a practice room and you are unfocused and unmotivated, you will gain nothing from those hours. Today I am going to give you some tips on how to make your practice purposeful, practical and positive! Here we go:

  • Do not go into the practice room hungry. I promise you, you will lose focus as soon as your stomach grumbles.
  • Do not go into the practice room sleepy. If you need to, take a quick 15 minute nap before you go. (Here are some of my favorite tips for napping:  http://oedb.org/library/features/50_terrific_nap_hacks_every_college_student_should_know)
  • If you’re stressed out about other school work when you go into the practice room, practice and do homework in intervals to keep your overall stress down.
  • Set goals for yourself. Examples: Translation due dates, history of piece/composer due dates, memorization due dates, etc.
  • Do not let yourself get too frustrated. If you are working on something and you just cannot seem to get it right, take a 5 minute breather break.
  • Turn off your phone when you go into the practice room!
  • Take a buddy to keep you on track, and maybe even help you reach your goals.
  • Try to do all of your preparation before you go into the practice room, so that one you are in there, you can just get going!

Practice makes perfect. But only purposeful, practical and positive practice! (That repetition gets annoying, but you probably remember it now!)

Here’s my favorite flow chart to keep you motivated: Image

Much love, Kat!

Time Managment

This week, I want to talk about time management and give you some tips about how best to plan your days. For the past month, I have been learning the best ways to adjust your schedule and fit in some practice time even when you think you can’t!

Most music majors average around 10 to 15 hours of required practice a week for their specified instrument. However, if you are a voice major like me, you may also choose to take piano lessons to hone your skills with that instrument. This means that I actually have 20 hours of required practice a week. Now, you’re probably thinking: “20 hours of practice a week? How in the world do you fit that in with homework, class and having a social life?” But over the past month, I have found some awesome ways to fit in all of my work, practice and fun!

The most important thing that I can tell anyone is: WRITE IT OUT. If you sit down and write out your schedule and see where the gaps in your day are, it makes your life a whole lot easier. Then you need to do a little math and see how much time you need to practice daily to fill your requirements. Here’s a little hint: If you have a very busy day on one day of the week and are only able to get in an hour of practice that day, you can make it up during the weekend! The weekend is a beautiful time to make up for lost hours because you have so much more free time.

So, besides writing it out, here are some of my ideas on how to manage your time wisely:

  • Get up early! Start your day by warming up for 30 minutes or an hour before you go get breakfast. It’s a great way to get your brain going.
  • Bring your practice materials with you everywhere. Then, if your class is cancelled or you get out early, you can run over to the practice room and sneak in some practice time!
  • Have a 30 minute break between classes? Go practice then! 30 minutes may not seem like a lot, but it can make a big difference, instead of sitting around and waiting for class to start.
  • You only need 30 minutes for lunch.  Seriously, that is all you need. That gives you enough time to eat and socialize, and then you may have an extra 30 minutes to an hour to practice.
  • If you’re doing your laundry, go to the practice room while you’re waiting for your clothes to be done!
  • Practicing does not always have to be done in the practice room! If you have your songs recorded on Audacity or another program like that, and your roommate is gone/does not mind, pull out your computer, warm up and get going! That way, it does not feel like as much effort to haul yourself over to the practice room.
  • Take your homework to the practice room! Take an hour to practice, an hour for homework and then another hour to practice. This eliminates the time it takes to walk back and forth to your dorm, and gives you a nice break between practice times.
  • Double dip on practice time! This only applies to girls who need practice for both voice and piano, but if I spend an hour singing and playing my accompaniment at the same time, that counts as an hour for both voice and piano!

I hope that these tips can help you feel better and more prepared for your lessons and less swamped when it comes to practice time. Just remember, sometimes you do need a break. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, just stop working, give yourself 5 minutes and try again. You can do it!
Much love, Kat!

Why I chose Meredith College

When you are a senior in high school, one of the things that is on your mind at all times is college. Where am I going? What do I want to do when I get there? How will I know if I made the right decision? For me, those answers all came to me during my visit to Meredith College for Scholarship Weekend in February 2012. At Meredith, if you apply for a music scholarship, you come to Meredith for a weekend to audition for the music faculty and at the same time, get to know some of the girls already in the department.

I was brought into Jones Chapel with the rest of the 170 girls there to prove themselves, and was suddenly taken away with the other girls there to pursue a music scholarship. We were then all taken into the music building and were greeted with small gifts and personalized notes to us about how happy the college was to have us here. That little touch of the music department already trying to take care of their students was incredible to me, I mean, they didn’t even know if we were coming to Meredith! That tone of personal attention continued throughout my entire weekend, through sitting in on classes, meeting the faculty, meeting current music students, and performances. I can’t remember a minute during that weekend when I was not smiling or laughing because of all the great people and great attitudes surrounding me.

When you first meet anyone that is part of the music department at Meredith, they automatically smile and start trying to memorize your name. They are welcoming, warm and ready to help with anything. They are also very serious about their music. I was told that if I wanted to be a music major, especially a music education major, I was going to have to work my very, very hard. However scary that sounded, I could tell that even though the department was going to ask a lot of me, that I would never be on my own in trying to accomplish everything I needed to.

That weekend was my answer to all my scary college questions. I knew I wanted to go to Meredith from that day on because of everything I had experienced in only a few days with the music faculty and students. Now that I am a full time student and just beginning my journey at Meredith, I am positive that I made the right decision because I already feel like a special part of the music department, which is a feeling I don’t think I would have gotten anywhere else!