Something that I love about DePaul is the quarter system. I know that none of us like having three sets of midterms and finals each school year, but I love the fast pace of each term. I also really love the extremely long winter break we get!
Having 6-7 weeks off in the middle of the school year can be both a beautiful and difficult thing for a music major.
What are the top 5 best things about this long break?
1. Finally taking time to slow down and really learn music.
Something unique about being a music major is learning new and more challenging music as you reach higher levels of technical mastery. This is both exciting and exhausting. By the time the quarter ends, it is really nice to have almost two full months to change your practice routine and take the time to refine your approach to how you learn music.
2. Taking a break from performing after juries and final performances.
As you learn new pieces and skills, you are also constantly working on and polishing your approach to performing. Getting up on a stage and playing for others does not come naturally to many of us music majors, so it is a skill that must be developed and practiced. By the end of the quarter, you will have most likely performed in multiple studio classes/master classes, chamber music performances, large ensembles, and even in a solo recital and/or jury in front of your professors. By the time you finish that last performance, you can walk off the stage knowing that you are able to take a mental and emotional break from performing in stressful environments. If you go home or have a gig over break and desire to perform, that’s great- you can do it on your own terms and get to practice those skills you developed throughout the quarter! But you can also feel free to relax, if you so desire.
3. Learning how to be your own teacher.
If you don’t have a teacher you can go back to over break to keep up with lessons, fear not! That is common for many music majors. It can be tough to keep the pace going in your practicing when you don’t have lessons to work toward, but if you develop the sense of inner motivation to stay diligent, not taking lessons can be a really great way to be your own teacher. After studying with your fantastic professors at DePaul, you can take everything you’ve learned from them and progress on your own. It is also great practice if you are ever interested in teaching your instrument privately someday. You’ll feel so good coming back from break and knowing that you were able to work hard and learn, all by yourself!
4. Getting feedback from other teachers.
If you do have a teacher or a fellow musician who is willing to listen to you and help you during break, this is a great way to mix things up and receive feedback from someone different. As much as you may love your DePaul professors and feel like you have progressed a great amount studying from them, getting opinions from other teachers can strengthen you as a player and teach you new things, showing you different approaches and points.
5. Being able to play for your family and friends.
The best part about being a music major is being able to share your passion with other people. Music majors often have a love/hate relationship with music: it’s something we are gifted with and love most of the time, but it is also our career and is a lot of hard work. Being able to share your music and perform for loved ones and people who have helped you achieve your dream of being in a music school is a special thing. It is also a great way to see how far you have come. I have had people tell me to never take my time in college for granted, not just because it is a fun time of social and academic growth, but also because it is a special time for great musical growth. The years you spend earning a degree in music are filled with a lot of advancement and learning; take the time to look back at how far you have come, and share that joy with others!