What it’s Really Like Studying Music in University

What it’s Really Like Studying Music in University

October 13, 2019 100 By Stanley Isaacs


Story time! Today’s topic is about… Music university. Stories from our old music uni days when… we actually still had dreams to become real classical musicians. God dammit. I was just thinking like what was my mind like back then. Oh yeah, I had dreams to be a soloist. I confess. I had dreams to become a soloist. But anyway, we thought we’d make this video here today. A, because… the title will just looks cool. No, we actually wanted to share with you guys what it’s like going to music uni, – our experiences.
– Mhm. So that maybe those of you out there that might be interested. Brett: So we went to uni together. Yeah. – I came in one year after him.
– Yeah, you did. Brett: I practiced a lot. And then… That’s all I did. You just have a… You just kinda have a group of- Actually no, I don’t really have a group of friends. I just practiced. And then I… Every lecture I kinda just sat at the back. I tried to be a good kid, but… just, just didn’t quite resonate with me, so… Cos I wanted to practice. Mhm. And oh, I remember orientation week. – Yup.
– That’s the very first part of the uni. Yeah. Oh no, that’s bad memories. My orientation week was… lots of violinists and no violist. – Uh huh.
– And of course my teacher made me… Oh, not that he made me, but it’s what it sound- You know when people ask you a question, but you know you don’t really have a choice. – Yeah.
– It’s like… “Why don’t you just play the viola for the week?” “Cos we need more violists.” Yeah. And I was just like… Yup! So I had a crash course how to play the viola. I played the Bach Suite, Cello Bach Suite No.1. Tried to learn the alto clef. *sighs* And then voila! I played the viola for Mozart quartet just to… Orientation week so everyone gets together. That was the most painful week. That was my first week of uni. You joined music uni on the violin major program, performance, and your first week was playing viola. Yeah, so sad. Oh man… That’s brutal. I mean, like they always say it’s always good to have an orientation, so you get to know everyone! Yeah. Well, I got to know the viola. I had my orientation week… It was a flexing story actually. Oh, here we go. I like the flex. Before orienation week, actually. So you have to like do an audition to get into music uni. And you have to do a theory test. You know I got my LMus when I was 13. So it’s like AMEB, so equivalent of like ABRSM, I think, overseas. I don’t know, it’s like an institution that just – grades your level of violin playing from…
– Yeah. beginner, grade 1 to grade 8. And after grade 8, there’s AMus. And then LMus is typically the highest one that people do. I mean there’s a few ambiguous ones above that, but no one really does it. I did that when I was 13. Now, obviously when you do these exams, you have to learn theories. So my mum, being the amazing parent she was, she paid money for me to go to theory tuition every week at Thursday night. – Still remember 6:30, we’d freaking-
– Ohh… I’d be hungry and tired. I’d be learning four-part harmony. But anyway, the result of that was, I remember… We had like an hour to do this theory exam. This is not my word. This is words from my friend that… she later told me. Because she was also in that hall. She’s remembered like… everyone started the exam, it’s like an hour exam. And like 15 minutes later, me, like this one cocky Asian kid just stands up, – and leaves and hands in his theory test.
– Ahahaha! I was like “Tsk, I’ve finished it.” – Save time, finished it.
– Yeah. You come into uni, thinking you’re the best, and then you quickly get humbled by reality. Yeah, you just start- You know when you… You have to know your schedule, learn your schedule, don’t know what’s going on. You join the classes. You don’t even know what the class is about. You meet the lecturers, you sit next to someone, you try to talk to them. And then at lunchtime you just want to get away. I think a lot of people try to like socialize in 1st year. You know like the typical trend that I see is 1st year students are always like trying to talk to each other. Yeah. But then by 3rd year, everyone’s just like – I don’t have time to socialize, I need to practice.
– Yeah. By 4th year, you’re rarely there, You’re either in the library researching, – or trying to practice, and trying to get a job, and just…
– Yeah. – making, make a living.
– Yeah. Yeah. That’s when your dreams start getting crushed. In the meantime, you see like videos on YouTube of like 10-year-olds that play better then you. You’re just like… But in your mind, you’re like… “I’m not really sure how this whole prodigy thing” “translates to getting a job in the real world.” So you’re just like “Ah, maybe it’s still fine…” Yeah, maybe it’s still okay. No, no, no, I didn’t see that. No, no, that’s… Obviously it’s edited. – Yeah…
– You kind of don’t really believe it. I mean, we were both, I guess, the type that… We went into music uni with a very clear vision of what we wanted. Whether the vision was… (both) realistic. *laughs* I mean, it doesn’t matter because we had a vision. Because I think the point though is like… We had a strong vision, so we went in there knowing what we wanted, which was to get as good as we can on the violin. I think some people… A lot of people going to music uni… not really sure what they want out of it. And so they kind of… I mean, I know that’s not a bad thing. Because they get to have a more well-rounded experience. Yes. But for us, we were like… We’re here to get good at the violin, which means… It was very clear that we just wanted to practice. So any lecture that we could kind of get out of, I mean, we don’t recommend this, but we were just like in the practice room – and practicing.
– Yeah. Probably harder to do it now, I’ve heard a lot of unis they have like signed tags. But we would, back in our days, just be like “Hey, sign us off.” “Sign us off. We don’t wanna be there.” – And then we just practiced.
– Yeah… I wasn’t really there to sing, so… Yeah. And then… we just practiced, and we… uh, In our uni, we had this thing called “the workshop.” – Oh, yes.
– So every category of instruments, we perform a lot to your peers, and one of the teachers of the faculty gives you feedback. And I think that was probably… arguably one of the best exp- Aside from private lessons, that was probably the best experience. And no one does it! No… That is the crazy thing. Yeah, no one does it. I think, they always designate 90 minutes every week. A chance to perform- Understandably, cos it’s so hard! And you know, we all know how hard it is to play in front of your peers and get nervous, but… Weird though, I think… – I know you did as well, I tried to play every week.
– Yeah. Mhm. Even when the piece was half ready, – I just tried to play every week because…
– Yeah. it was the most obvious course to take for what we wanted to do. – Yes.
– Perform. Yup. I think that’s one of the greatest things about music uni is you get a lot of opportunities to perform in front of people. Yes, it’s the hardest one to take. – But it’s the best one.
– So valuable. So if you guys have that, perform as much as you can! Eddy: Mhm.
Brett: Because it’s… They say half of the learning is… on… – stage.
– Yeah. “But, but I get nervous!” Well, that’s the point. That’s the point. That’s why you go on stage and perform. – Yeah.
– It’s like how do you get over performance anxiety. – You don’t. You just do it.
– You just do it so much that… – You get used to it.
– Yeah, you get used to it. But in some way, it’s just kinda liberating cos once you’re performing, you start to get into it. And afterwards, you’re like “yes!” “De-ching!” It’s like level up. Mhm. Or level down self-esteem. But that’s okay cos it’s still a level-up! Yeah. So that’s the main one. Yeah… Nah, I remember like… Cos it was volunteering, basically like the whole string department. And you get to decide. You put your name down whether you wanted to perform. Yeah. And I think there were a lot of people that throughout the whole 4-year degree would… didn’t like even perform once. – And to me, that’s just such a waste of opportunity.
– Actually yeah. But again it’s like, maybe they’re not there to become performers? Yeah. – So…
– Exactly. But to me, I think it’s just… If you want to p… push your violin skills as much as possible, and performing something you’re insterested in- Brett: That’s the way. Definitely recommend you guys to do that. – The practice rooms, man… They were so dirty!
– Ohh… If your university has clean practice rooms, you’re so lucky. Oh my god… Ow… so dirty… There was just scribbles on the wall, horn spit. No, it’s just how- There’s gums stuck everywhere. It smells! – Yeah. OoHhHHhH!! Someone would like
– It smells! eat like chicken curry in the practice room before. Or like someone would practice with their bare foot. – Oh, that’s disgusting.
– in a sweaty day, and it smells like feet. – And I’m like…
– Ohh… And half the air condition in the rooms don’t work. – and it’s carpeted rooms.
– Yeah… And it’s like B.O. OhHhhHHh… Ugh… – I’m like remembering the smell!
– I know! I remember- And sometimes it feels like it’s sticky, you know, – it just sticks on you when you walk into the room.
– Yeah. – And you’re like “Oh my god…”
– Yeah. But we just pushed through cos we gotta practice! Gotta practice! You know, we, we… I used to think it was like, just our uni. But from what I’ve heard, – a lot of music unis around the world are like…
– Yeah… – I heard about even the best… most renowned…
– Even some very prestigious ones… – I think.
– We won’t name. But if you’re studying there, I think you know what we’re talking about. – *cough* J****d!
– *cough* C****s. – Jail, jail, jaillard.
– Yeah. You know what I end up doing half the time too? Cos there was never enough practice rooms, I would just practice outside. Brett: Yeah! Yeah, on the seats outside.
Eddy: On the seats. Yeah. Brett: We just practiced outside.
Eddy: And everyone used to like, look at me like… – “F**, this… who is this guy playing outside?”
– “What are you doing?” I’m like, I don’t care. I got an audition coming up. – I need to practice. Yeah.
– It’s just stressing me out. I need to practice. Did you ever have orchestral literature class? – with the great Morgs.
– Ohh… “Hey, Brett!” “When do… When was Mozart born?” Uh… “You need to know!” “Fail!” Every week you’ll just perf- The lecturer just pick a different piece of orchestral music, and the idea is like… to introduce you to orchestral music. – Hurray…
– It’s like “Yo, I can go on YouTube.” “A half these pieces I already know.” I know… And so, I mean… I ended up just like chatting to my friends. You know, I was just like *chatting* hahaha! Like being on my phone. Just being a bit of a rebel, I guess. The lecturer got really mad, and he was just like… “You! I’ve had enough of you talking!” “Get out of the lecture!” – You’re like “Okay.”
– “Get out now!” And I was just like… Okay, I will prac- Went to practice. – I actually just went straight to practice.
– That’s the best way. Piss your lecturer off. If it’s boring, you just leave. Oh man… All my friends were like “I’m so jealous you got an extra hour to practice,” “while I was just sitting there…” – I mean, I don’t recommend that type of behaviour.
– I know. Please be… – Respectful to your-
– an obedient, respectful student. I’m just gonna be practicing. You know what I hated in university? What? Referencing… OoHhHHhhHh!! Hey, you put your full stop before the bracket instead of afterwards, – so that’s just your whole academic degree gone.
– To this day, I’m just… I just don’t… I know. I can’t believe that affects your grades. It’s just referencing seems to me the most irrelevant- I mean, look, you can reference things. Yes, but… Why do you have to grade on “page dot?” It has to be- not p-a-g-e, but it has to be “p.54” instead of page. So like there’s no inherent information from there. But correct us if we’re wrong. It might be some actual value. Please comment below. – I mean, there probably is, in terms of like-
– Yeah. If you, if… – organizing databases and stuff, yeah?
– Yeah, exactly. But, – like, we’re here for violin performance major, you know?
– I know. To be honest, yeah. And then whatever research, we’re just trying to make our point. – Yeah.
– That’s it. Some of the research I did was alright though. But that was like one lecture that was awesome. None of mine was alright. Did you not have Emmerson? Oh, I did. – Emmerson was like, pretty good.
– Oh no, no, Emmerson was great, yeah. He was great. – But I mean the papers I wrote are just…
– Oh… Oh right, the papers. Whatever. Anyway! 1st year, I was very naive and innocent. I wanted to help people. And so, this guy… This is how he talked. He’s like a cellist, and he’s like “Hey man.” “My… I know this…” “referencing assignment’s due tomorrow.” “So, can you like send me your thing?” “I just need, I need something to like…” “just an idea.” “I need some help. Send me your assignment.” So I was like okay, I thought he was just gonna… model it? Just to see how it’s done. So I sent him the file. Freaking 1 week later, I get called to the freaking… academic, like, disciplina- disciplinary… – Disciplinary office.
– Uh… Yeah, office or whatever. And they’re like… “This is plagiarism.” I’m like “wtf?!” “What do you mean?” And he’s like… And then apparently, this guy that I gave my assignment to- for like reference, he literally submitted my entire assignment as is WITH MY NAME ON IT!! *laughs* I’m like “Holy moly!” And the worst part, you know what they said? Cos I’m like, look, I was just trying to- I was just trying to help him cos he wanted help. I didn’t know he was gonna submit my assignment. And she says something like “You’re not meant to even share the files of your assignment.” “That’s going against the protocols, and” “you took part in the act of plagiarism.” “Next time you do that, you get expelled.” I’m like… That’s called punishment for trying to help people. Good message. It’s like I should be the victim here. And I had to redo the assignment along with that dude. And then, I still remember to this day, he was like “I’m so sorry, bro.” “I’ll buy you a dinner as an apology.” You still owe me a dinner. – Hahahaha!
– It’s been 6 years, you still haven’t bought me that dinner! Oh, that’s funny! I don’t know. Side tangent! – In high school, I got a friend,
– Yeah. he got a C- for his assignment, and he was- – I know this story.
– It’s the funniest. He got a C-. Okay guys, C- is a bare pass. Anything lower, you fail in where we study. Mhm. And he got a C- for the assignment, he was like “Bro, this is bulls***!” “I wanna get it moderated!” So he takes it to another lecturer cos you can challenge it and say “This is unfair, I want it moderated.” And once it’s moderated, you can’t go back. No, that’s it. He got moderated to a D+! So he failed! What did he do afterwards? – He’s just… sad…
– Or is he like, just sad? So sad… Anyway. But uni life is fun. I think you meet a lot of friends there. You meet all your friends, initial friends there. – You have your groups.
– Yeah. You go on a journey together. Sometimes it’s great, some subjects are questionable, but most of it, it’s… – if it’s a good lecturer, definitely informative and useful?
– Mm. Some of our friends we still are close with today from uni. – Yeah, *inaudible* all from uni, and…
– Yeah. Yeah, I mean, it’s okay if you don’t know what you wanna do. Go to uni and enjoy it. And if you know what you wanna do, stick to it, and- You start projects on uni. Case in hand: TwoSet. We started that. We did! We started in uni. In the last year of uni. It wasn’t… like… part of a uni course. We just started on the side. (both) Yeah. I don’t know. I hope this was very insightful for you guys. Meet a lot of people, be friends with them. – You don’t know who will impact your life or career.
– Your life. A lot of people meet the love of their lives in uni. That’s true. Not that we recommend you be doing that. You should be practicing. “Oh my god! I ship Brett and Eddy so much!” Next fan fiction, freaking- to people because they might submit it with your name on it. And you get in trouble. What else? Skip lectures to practice. I’m- We’re like giving the most- It’s just a story. Story time! – Yeah, story time!
– Not advice time. Story time! Practice! Buy our merch. Ow.