Music students and high school academic loads

<p>It seems that many of the fine young musicians applying to high level music programs are not coming from traditional high school situations. Several parents mention that their high school level students are home-schooled, half-time, community college attendees for higher level math and science courses, correspondence course and/or on-line students, etc., so that there will be enough time to practice and prepare auditions. Could we take inventory here and report how these striving musicians finished last two years of high school? What kind of loads were they able to manage while they prepared for auditions? Can high school students, particularly instrumentalists who can and must practice more hours a day than singers, handle a regular schedule?</p>

<p>My son is at performing arts boarding school, which has a reduced academic load requirement (4 English, 3+ math, 3 science, 2+ foreign language, 3 social studies, computer literacy/keyboarding, health and PE), but more than makes up for it in required music courses (applied lessons, studio class, orchestra, theory, music lit, chamber music.)</p>

<p>My D is a singer, so she didn't practice as much as an instrumentalist. She spent her last two years of high school at an arts boarding school, but wanted to keep up a rigorous academic load as well. Senior year was tough. She had AP Calculus and 3 other solids as well as her music classes. When she was traveling all over for auditions, she complained a lot. But- she made it and got 5s on both her AP exams. It requires a lot of organization and discipline. Most of the students at her school reduced their academic load more than she did. It is tough for the dancers and the instrumentalists to do it all.</p>

<p>Like MomofWildChild my D is a vocalist. She went to a private day school and kept up a heavy academic load including AP courses and other 'solids.' Her voice lessons/coaching were outside of school and she took theory and a vocal performance workshop on the weekends. She also sang in a large regional choir. As MomofWildChild says, vocalists don't (and can't) practice as long as instrumentalists but the visitation/admission process to music schools is just as onerous -- check out schools, visit the schools and have sample lessons, prepare auditions, CDs, and videotapes, go back to the schools again for auditions, revisit AGAIN once admission is gained to connect with teacher, etc.!!!!!! It takes loads of organization -- refer to BassDad's last post on 'Music School decision finally made! - <a href="http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/showthread.php?t=57671%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/showthread.php?t=57671&lt;/a> - which talks about early audition preparation and a live audiiton. I would add to his post - for vocalists - talk with your teacher about what you sing best at this point in time - prepare repertoire accordingly. A 17-18 year old classical singer has a long way to go to improve and peak -- show off what you do best at this stage in the game -- NOT what you are working to improve (leave that in the studio!). It doesn't have to be a fancy song (in fact, most auditioners don't want operatic arias -- art songs are appropriate for a young singer -- in fact, a piece way over the head of a 17-18 year old vocalist is a turnoff!). Prepare a CD with your audition repertoire on it -- you will use this as a screening CD to (hopefully) gain auditions at some music schools/conservatories -- and for a live audition if your voice is not there (happened to my D who had laryngitis for 2 weeks of audition season! -- she got into both places she auditioned at while 'sick' - because she had the CD as back-up!). A live audition at the schools you are serious about is imperative -- I know $ and travel can be an issue -- but narrow down your choices to the places you really, really think you want to go to and have a shot at and attend their live audition. Finally, check out the teachers at the schools you are interested in BEFOREHAND -- have a lesson -- see if you 'click.' That person will be a friendly face at the audition!</p>

<p>My D (HS junior) is carrying as rigorous an academic load as possible, including Calculus I and II and First- and Second-Semester English at the local college while doing her other coursework at the HS. But she's a vocalist / pianist whose limits piano work to an hour or two a day, so her rehearsal schedule is not as time-consuming as an instrumentalist. Still, she's trying to do this, study for and take AP exams, audition for shows, participate in competitions and performances, take the SAT, and make college visits. She's seriously stressed, though it should let up in a week when the college exams end.</p>

<p>sopranosmom - at what point did your daughter get lessons with prospective teachers? Was it the summer after her junior year?</p>

<p>Our posts are crossing, ABlestMom! Yes, we did all her sample lessons during either spring break of junior year or that summer right before senior year. We/she had compiled a working list of possible schools and she emailed teachers and set up lessons with the visits. I will forwarn you that some teachers are unavailable in the summer -- they teach or sing elsewhere -- but we managed to connect with everyone she wanted to meet. By fall of senior year, she had a good sense of where she wanted to apply and she could concentrate on her applications and making her audition CD. As you proably know, most vocal performance programs do not have ED (exception is early review at Oberlin), so she had some time to get applications completed and audition repertoire polished before early January deadlines and audition dates.</p>

<p>We visited a couple of colleges during spring break of junior year and June of junior year. D had lessons with potential teachers at that time. She never did have a lesson at Indiana or Oberlin, but she observed a studio class. She relied a lot on her Interlochen teacher's advice on which college teachers would be best for her (a mezzo).</p>

<p>Parents of instrumentalists? Or are you all working late to pay for those instruments????!!!!</p>

<p>In reference to the OP:</p>

<p>My son is an accomplished musician (three time all-state, resulting in many school absences), and also has a 4.0 uw in the most rigorous courses available (all AP or honors, including AP Physics, two years of AP calc, AP histories, AP languages, etc), does an independent study at school, studies music theory privately and works a full day every Saturday. I believe organization is one key to his success. He also says to "work smart" and "practice smart", but not necessarily very long hours.</p>

<p>lorelei--yes, as a matter of fact, we are working to pay off our son's new trumpet! :-) a Monette, if anyone knows trumpets...</p>

<p>My son is the part-time high school, part-time homeschooler mentioned (or at least one of them). As a junior, he took Honors English, Jazz Band, Symphonic Band, and Physics at the high school, Calculus at the community college, and German language and American History at home. (We also hosted a German exchange student.) This year he is taking AP Lit, Jazz Band, Symphonic Band, and Concert Choir at the high school, Statistics and Astronomy at the community college (one quarter each), and Economics and Political Science/Government at home. He has been in a demanding youth orchestra both years, as well, taken private lessons, and he has a part-time job in a local pet boarding kennel to pay for gas for his old clunker. Oh, yes, he also teaches trumpet lessons to 4-5 middle school students. He practices as many hours as he can fit in every day and spends a lot of time on other musical activities. (His band director has given him permission to conduct a piece in the Symphonic Band spring concert, so he has been working on that a lot.)</p>

<p>How does he do it? Basically, not as much sleep as he would like, not as much time with friends, and alas, no girls in his life. Also, unfortunately, he is often behind in homeschool course work. Somehow Mom's assignments always come last. :-(</p>

<p>DS attended a private day school, taking all Honors or AP courses as well as participating in the school's Jazz Band and a capella chorus. He also took private piano and music composition/theory lessons, and participated in his Boy Scout troop (Eagle scout, junior leader) activities. He had a parttime job, but his father and I made him quit it when he started running out of time for homework on a regular basis. LOL, he also broke his hand on Christmas day, which really messed up his ability to do piano auditions, but that's another story altogether. How he found time to breath, eat and sleep (which he occasionally didn't do) was beyond me, but it turned out to be the perfect training for double-majoring at a conservatory. Organization is a must, as is the ability to realize what can/must be put aside at any given moment in favor of something else that requires attention. I think that most serious music students learn early on how to keep several balls in the air at the same time, and it's a talent that they will use for the rest of their educational careers, if not their lives.</p>

<p>lorelei2702 my s is a high school senior who plays piano. He's handled his music and school by just plain old hard work. He has taken mostly honors/AP courses, gone to lessons 2x per week after school, practiced a few hours each day and attended music school for most of the day on Saturdays and music camp in the summer. If he didn't absolutely LOVE the piano he couldn't have done it. During his junior year in particular he functioned without a lot of sleep. As as far as paying for the instrument and lessons- suffice it to say that vacations weren't on the agenda. (except to stay with relatives)</p>

<p>DS is a performance major. He went to a traditional semirural high school. At school he was in the wind ensemble and jazz band...and he played in the pit bands for the musicals. He was in the Wind Ensemble and Orchestra at the Hartt School Community Division, as well as being in a brass quintet for three years. He took both trumpet and piano lessons, and sang in a choir. He practiced about 4 hours a day. His junior year he took Algebra 2, Honors Chemistry, Honors US History, Honors English 3, Music Theory, Honors Wind Symphony, and PE/Health. Senior year he took: AP Shakespeare, AP Modern European History, Honors Wind Symphony, Statistics/Economics, Psychology/Sociology, and an independent study in Music History (a comprehensive study of Mahler). All four years of high school he participated in both regional and All State Music festivals, and New England Music Festival. In addition, he went to summer music camp for three summers and spent two summers at Tanglewood (BUTI). To be honest, the busier he was, the easier he found it to practice sufficiently. He just budgeted his time better. His senior year was particularly busy as he continued all of the above plus had 7 auditions to play and an additional festival out of state (MENC Eastern). I agree that any serious musician must learn to budget their time well. BUT I will also add that it is very possible to be a serious musician attending a traditional high school. The student must be a bit more self driven perhaps. Oh...the costs...well, it made it easier to pay college tuition! We just deducted all of his lessons, transportation and food costs, and the college bills didn't seem so bad! DS has three trumpets, multiple mutes, multiple music stands, and a ton of music...a Dr. Beat, a tuner, minidisk player, and music notation software for his computer. And a really good, sturdy, lightweight, versatile, backpack instrument case!!</p>

<p>My son is a cellist at Eastman. He attended a regular large urban public school. He took all of the normal advanced classes his first 2 years. His junior year, he realized that he would have difficulty taking AP calc AB, all his other classes and still have time to prepare sufficiently for auditions. He ended up not taking any more math after fininshing pre-calc his sophmore year. That allowed him to be done by 2:30 each day and leave to go home and practice. </p>

<p>Senior year, he took a reduced scheduled first semester and did not go to school until the second half of the day. He practiced every morning. His first semester was Adv. English, AP French 5, orchestra and Sinfonietta. Second semester he went back to a full schedule and added Adv. physics and a required social studies class. It left him one hour in the middle of the day where he would go practice.</p>

<p>Out of school, he played in our youth orchestra, played professionally in a local community orchestra, played with a nationally competitive string quartet, took piano, and studied with a cellist 3 hours away, so 2 days a month were devoted to his cello lessons (senior year only).</p>

<p>We felt very fortunate to be in a school district that was flexible enough to allow him to do what he felt he needed to do in order to have successful auditions. And he knew that he would not be able to do it all. So he chose what he wanted to concentrate on and did it all very well.</p>

<p>Thanks sopranosmom - good scheduling advice!</p>

<p>My D is a graduating senior who started college as a Flute Performance major(BMus) ..finishing as a Musicology (BA Music).
In HS(large suburban public) she was only allowed to reduce her school day by 1 period..and that was at the beginning of the day.Band/Orchestra was 8th period.She took a full compliment of AP's and Honor's. She did give up the last year of language and science in her senior year.She took 2 years of music theory in the HS but they did not offer the Music Theory AP. She was in the pit orchestras twice a year, Marching Band (mandatory for marching band instruments) a Youth Orchestra, A Wind ensemble, a chamber ensemble,took private
lessons weekly,participated in All County and All state ensembles.She did summer performing arts camps, flute workshops,a summer program at Eastman to decide if she wanted to be a performance major in college.We went for a lesson with one of the foremost flute professors
during the Spring vacation of her junior year and did whats called an evaluative junior audition at the Hartt school of Music in order to gauge her level of readiness for senior auditions. She did 7 auditions in person during her senior year and one preliminary by CD (not chosen to continue on to an in person).She managed to graduate in the top 20 (her HS doesn't rank but identifies the top 20) and was a National Merit Finalist.We were able to parlay the National Merit into a match with a top 25 music school (large public way-out- of state )where she found a teacher she loved that offered free tuition for NMF's and an honor's college setting.Her instruments were expensive,her lessons were expensive,the costs of the trips for auditions were beyond expensive.But college has been free! She's going on for a Phd in Musicology at a Top 25 Private U (according to your website listings) tuition paid with a nice healthy stipend.Wonderful outcome for much hard work.</p>

<p>Son just finished his 1st yr at college as a music performance major-trumpet. Went to a regular HS, took all the AP & honors available that did not conflict with music. One yr it was honors chem over music theory (took Berklee on line), next yr it was Jazz over Calc (did a self teach thing). Got up to 2nd degree black belt in TaeKwonDo then could not fit it in the schedule. He was drum major and Key Club President. No paying job but he did tons of volunteer work. He had lessons but not the type that was really needed. He had music ignorant parents. He did belong to a great jazz group where he met some great people and opportunities. Poor child was cramming for audtion stuff and preparing in Dec because we just didn't know enough. Everything worked out but I sometimes wonder how.</p>

<p>Everyone - what's your take on all this? I'm sure that we'd all agree that we couldn't keep our kids from the music if we tried. But for those whose kids are burning their candles at both ends, have we taught them to be highly-productive time managers or have we allowed them to load up with so many obligations and expectations that they're either missing out on other important things or heading for a meltdown?</p>

<p>I really think it depends on the kid. At some point they simply have to figure out how much they can handle. As a college soph, D occasionally complains about how much she has to do, but she is pretty good about regulating herself. Besides her vocal performance commitments (lessons, practice, 2 choirs and a leading role in a light opera this spring) she has her other courses to manage. Yet she finds PLENTY of time to attend performances, spend time with her boyfriend and is very active in a church group. She doesn't get to work out as often as she would like, and has had to sacrifice some residential college social activities. I actually think she is less stressed in college than she was in high school.</p>

<p>I am not convinced that they can do a really good job of anything, but rather they are "managing". Particularly when they are involved in group performances, they have very little control over their time commitments, i.e. when rehearsals happen, they must be there. It is quite a different thing to stay up late to study or prepare a project, where you do the best you can with the time and energy you have, and to "perform" publically, where everyone will witness your level of success or not. I never could stand watching a teacher grade my test paper, and public performance seems similar! </p>

<p>Perhaps the standards are not as high as we think they are for many of the things they do. End of grade tests in some states only require a 50% to pass, and with a 75%, it averages as an A. What is the message? Would it not be better to have fewer categories of effort and do it right, or at least as thoroughly as possible? Noone is superman, but the kids I read about at this site seem superhuman. </p>

<p>I know from my own life that I cannot maintain and nurture family relationships, perform at a high level professionally, and do right by my students. When I was most recently on a university faculty, I was the only female with both a husband and children in a department of 60+ professors, some had one or the other, but noone else had both. My reading group, which consists of 20+ faculty women, has only one other mother, everyone else is childless. We may have more diversified faculties in terms of gender, but these faculties are not representative of the general population in terms of family structures. When our children, unfortunately it is a bigger problem for females, are adults, how will they feel when they find they cannot do it all and feel good about how they have done it? Are we setting the standard too low by spreading the responsibilties too wide?</p>