Winning at Music College - Part 3

What are the essential skills?

Winning at Music College
Part 3

What skills should you focus on developing?

Believe it or not, the key to success in music isn't all about being good with your instrument. I've always said that your musical skill and qualification just qualifies you to be invited to the party - it your personal qualities are what get you in the front door.

It would be sensible for you to think of your first day at a Music College as being the first day in the music industry. If you've read part 2 of this series or my book "The Music Student's guide to being a Music Student" then you'll already know that everyone around you at your college/university is a potential employer and colleague in music.

People will be forming opinions about you instantly and those impressions will last - so make it count from day 1.

This blog will give you an idea of the skills you need to develop and practice throughout your music college career. They may not seem like 'skills - but they are!

1. People skills

Music work is all about relationships. You will need to develop relationships with people to be remembered when it comes to obtaining regular work.

The key thing to remember about 'people' is that everyone is that they want to be valued and liked, and they respond very well to people being interested in them.

• Learn people's names - and use them. What name do they prefer? Use the name that they prefer. A person's name is their entire identity and they're quick to correct you if you get it wrong… and are secretly insulted when you get their name wrong. Learn everyone's names.

• Be interested in them. As them questions and carry conversations. People love talking about themselves when they're asked and it makes them feel good if someone is interested in them. The result is that they'll like you more!! Don't spend all of your time talking about yourself, though. You'll come across as self obsessed.

• Keep your promises and commitments. If you promise to do something or be somewhere. Keep that promise. It may not seem like a big deal, but people remember when promises are broken.

2. Time keeping and reliability.

Mentioned before in Part 2, time keeping is everything in music. If you're late, this is what you'll be remembered for. If you're frequently late, or don't turn up without notice, this is what you'll be remembered for.



3. Enthusiasm for team work

Most of music is team work. Being in a band is being part of a team. Working as part of a group is being part of a team.
"The team" is very quick to notice those who don't care - the people who don't offer ideas, seem 'visually' interested in what's going on.

It's similar if you turn up to rehearsals not knowing your parts.

These perceptions will carry over - if you're seen as 'not interested' or 'not involved', then don't be surprised if you're not picked for projects in college or in professional work.

4. Be nice! Be diplomatic.

It's fundamental. People will only want to be around 'nice' people. If you're an asshole - people won't want to work with you. Period.

5. Be very aware

There is going to plenty of times that you'll get frustrated with your class mates. But don't be a dick about it. Be aware that everyone is there to learn just like you. So be very aware of situations and how they occur. Making mistakes because you're still learning isn't quite the same as making mistakes because you're lazy.

The important thing is to constantly analyse things that have happened during your courses and learn from the mistakes. This is allow you to not get too worked up and start wrecking relationships with people. It's hard - I won't lie!

6. Be organised

The last one - be organised. Do your homework, practice your songs, prepare for meetings and projects and presentations.
Don't be seen as the one who's always making excuses.

These are all skills. Believe me!

About the Author


Dave Phillips is one of the most skilled musicians in the UK industry. A player, a producer, a manager, a teacher, a writer and a designer - Dave is very very busy!

He studied at Music School - SSR in Manchester - and almost instantly began teaching music production at Degree level which led him to eventually manage a Music College. He also studied for his BA as an adult.

Knowing how difficult the music industry is - and know how difficult it is to be a teenager and young adult! - he enjoys teaching and coaching younger musicians to make the right choices at the most critical time of their

His book "
The Music Student's Guide to being a Music Student" is an in depth look at what it is to be a professional musician, and things that students should be doing while they study to ensure that their music career kicks off the moment they graduated.

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