Music – when students burn out…

In my current teaching role at an institution in Melbourne I have seen time and time again students who ‘just get over the line’ without really having an opportunity to soak up information provided by lecturers and then apply to their own craft – an issue that isn’t only within my institution or discipline.

When it comes to music, a lot students are preparing for classes only, a typical student study load in my institution consists of:

  • Principal Study
  • Ensemble
  • Theory
  • Critical Studies
  • Performance Studies
  • Concert Practice
  • Workshop
  • Elective (arranging, production etc)

This is roughly 14 hours of class time per week not to mention extra rehearsals toward week 8, 9 and 10 to prepare for assessments for at least 2 of these classes.

When does the student get time to practice and work on technique (scales, tone etc) or work on aural skills? instead of completing tasks for class in order to pass a subject? And then, when does the student have to work in their part time job in order to pay the bills, when do they get to go and see performances to enhance their musical language and then network with other musicians… when do they sleep?

I’m aware that students have the option to study part time, however, in a full time load such as above, isn’t this all too much? It certainly was not like this when I was a student.

What has changed?

Are we preparing professional musicians for the future, or are we burning them out?


One thought on “Music – when students burn out…

  1. The above has me wondering about whether or not there is any difference between a professional musician and other professions. I guess it’s more a case of challenging my assumptions of music as being more than just a profession. Music as both vocation and avocation combined. Of course, this is based on perceptions of musicians portrayed in popular media such as Mozart in the Jungle.

    Setting that aside, and a gain showing my musical ignorance, if “scales, tone etc” are important to development as a musician, why aren’t they part of the courses the students take? Or, are they part of the expectation of those courses, but not the assessment. Is this like what I see in many other disciplines, students focused on completing the assessment and nothing more?

    Or is it something different?

    Is there literature around music education that has looked at these (and other) issues?


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