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The Conservatory-Specific Checklist

August 19, 2015

Attending conservatory is definitely a new way of life for most people: your life is going to revolve around music for the most part. This is definitely an awesome and scary thing. You are going to have amazing artistic experiences, become married (or enchained.... pending how you look at it) to your instrument, and make music in a whole new way. So buckle up, kiddos.

Here's what I suggest you bring and leave at home to make the most out of your conservatory experience (and not have your parents hate you for hauling so much stuff)!

Don't Bring:

•A Folding Music Stand - You probably are always told to bring this for festivals... but unless you're going to be doing a lot of gigging, it's just going to sit in your room/locker. Worse even, you'll probably loan it out and never see it again.
Your Encyclopedia of Music/Music Reference books - The Oberlin conservatory library is one of the best in the country. You will probably be able to find anything (including the book you are thinking of bringing). So unless you really think you'll read that 1,000 page book on Brahms' psychoanalytic profile, I would suggest leaving it at home.
Your Entire Music Library - Yes, bring your etude books, scale systems, past solo repertoire, and repertoire you would like to study/think you will study. Don't bring your complete chamber music library: the con library will almost certainly have the score/parts for your leisure. Have any questions? Just ask your teacher.
Locker Paraphernalia - Your locker isn't going to be like your high school locker. The main things that end up in your conservatory locker are your instrument, backpack, current rep, old theory tests, and crumpled music programs you're meaning to collect. That won't leave much room for bookstands, pencil holders, etc. If you feel particularly decorative, by all means include those witty magnets and awkward family photos. Don't put anything on the outside of your locker. Your locker will soon be covered (and I mean COVERED) with your friends' recital posters.

Do Bring:

CDs and DVDs - You're definitely going to want these for when you play in studio class or when you record for summer festivals, auditions, and competitions. I can't tell you how often I'm asked for a spare, blank CD or DVD!
•Invest in a Portable Recording Device - When summer festival time/grad school audition time rolls around, the halls are going to be booked solid. So if you're caught in a bind, you'll need to improvise in a classroom with a portable recorder. Also, these come in handy for your lessons if you want to review how you got your butt handed to you by your teacher (the reasons are usually made clear upon listening)! Curious what to get? Definitely just ask a TIMARA major - if it's electronic and makes/records sounds, these are your go-to people for advice.
Staff Paper - You're going to be using plenty of this in theory and aural skills classes. The bookstore has some for sale, but it's either expensive or easily falls apart.
Instrument Supplies - I'm talkin' strings, reeds, rosin, etc. The nearest music supplies store to Oberlin is Amazon.com on your laptop. So when you pop a string in orchestra rehearsal (oh... it happens), you're going to want to have a backup!
•A Spare Umbrella for Your Locker - Ohio weather is anything but predictable. So to avoid getting yourself (or your instrument case if you're walking to orchestra rehearsal) wet, keep a spare umbrella in your locker.
Practice Journal/log - Stay organized, people! The best practicing happens when you know 1. What to practice, 2. How to practice, and 3. How long to practice. These handy books will remind you what your musical priorities are. Get into the habit of spending time immediately after your lesson and jot down EVERYTHING you talked about (whilst watching the recording of yourself with your handy recording device). This has definitely helped me. It often (not always... but often) will keep your teacher from repeating the same critiques (because you're making the same mistakes).

Ask your peers and teachers questions if you would like further recommendations. Obviously do what is financially reasonable for you. If you have any questions, comment below. Current or former con students, let me know if I missed anything in the comments below!

Welcome to Oberlin!

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