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 burnt out
Author: Laurie 
Date:   2006-08-08 05:41

I've been a music major for 4 years.. Because I transfered I still have 2 to go.

[snipped - GBK ] I'm sick of retaking classes with kids 3 years younger, i'm sick of the school rivarly, and ego's taking over. I hate that i only need 15 credits to student teach, but i will need to be there for 2 years because of sequences and schedules. I'm sick of no one at my new school recognizing that i have expirence, that i'm a good student and I worked hard. I was on the deans list when i transfered.

I'm burnt out. I practice because i have to. I don't remember the last time i played for fun. I get solid 4.0's in clarinet, and A's for my juries but i don't go above and beyond like i use to. I study and work hard, but i always feel like a failure. I have great teachers both at school and at home but its hard.

I don't know what do. All I want to do is get out and teach. I'm sick of school, i'm so sick of it. I'm more afraid that because i've had such a rough run in school that when i get out, I won't love it as much as when i got in. I'm really afraid that the next two years will just kill any love that left for music.

I guess what i'm asking here, is how do I get through in one piece. Any advice for finding and gettting back that love of music and or dealing with schools and being a music major ?

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 Re: burnt out
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2006-08-08 12:50

For one reason or the other I've had "breaks." One big one was in the middle of University. I suppose the best thing is not to force it. Do what you need to do to get your credentials and perhaps live for the exciting electives that you can take along the way.

Someday the burning desire may return, then again it may not. But whatever you do don't force yourself to believe something you don't feel.

...............Paul Aviles

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 Re: burnt out
Author: FDF 
Date:   2006-08-08 13:07


I understand your frustration with school and your desire to be in the work force. It must be especially difficult with a semester’s worth of work remaining, but a need to remain in school for two more years. I hope I can offer you some advice.

First, remember your goal of becoming a music teacher and how important your goal was to you when you began. Imagine the reality of being a music teacher, and how you will deal with that. If your dream of being a music teacher is still strong, then don’t let the difficult task of achieving that goal defeat you. Keep your mind on your dream.

Second, talk to your advisor, to some department heads, or instructors of courses you need to complete. Perhaps you can take some individualized instruction to complete requirements and speed up the time.

Third, if you must judge your classmates, judge them by their talents and intelligence, but not their age.

Fourth, remember your own self-worth, the proof is in your current success. Praise and recognition from other’s isn’t always forthcoming in a competitive environment, so you have to access your own abilities and accomplishments. You are a success, or you wouldn’t be this close to your goal.

Finally, if you don’t already have some other interests to occupy your mind, develop some. Hopefully, you are playing in an ensemble you enjoy, or engaged in some other school activities, etc.

Above all, remember your ambitions are worthy and keep steadfast to your dreams.

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 Re: burnt out
Author: EuGeneSee 
Date:   2006-08-08 13:11


Paul has the right idea there. I went back to college at age 25 when I didn't have but a few hours from my younger days . . . almost had to start from scratch. I wasn't a music major, but rather took accounting. I, too, suffered a lot of burnout with about 2 years yet to go.

Anyhoo, a wise and grizzled old counselor told me to take interesting, off the beaten path electives, because he said because my studies were so concentrated around my business major that I was suffering from "hardening of the categories."

I followed his advice and grabbed an eclectic bunch of electives like anthropology, logic, library science (cataloging), botany, genetics, calculus, drafting, history of the rennaissance & reformation, comparative religion, etc. The main thing was in each area I looked for interesting courses taken by those who were majoring in the field and rarely by those who don't. That way I had relatively small classes of students who were gung ho about the subject and profs who loved being there. The overall synergy made it lively and intersting, and my boredom & burnout went away.

I never would have imagined school could have actually been so much fun!


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 Re: burnt out
Author: Hank Lehrer 
Date:   2006-08-08 13:18

Hi Laurie,

I advised university students for many years lot before I retired. What you are experiencing is not unusual or terminal.

You don't mention quite enough about why and when you transferred. However, going from one institution to another can always present a sequencing problem like you are finding in getting your student teaching underway. Although it has been almost 45 years since I did my student teaching, I'm sure little has changed; you will enjoy this part of education very much.

As far as being in "classes with kids 3 years younger" I had much the same thing. I finished my first two years of college, went into military service for 3 years, and then came back to finish as a much more mature and directed student. Suddenly, I was the Old Man in my classes and I really enjoyed it. Perhaps you can see that playing a leadership role for the youngsters might be fun.

You will survive and be better for overcoming these frustrations.


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 Re: burnt out
Author: charlie_star_uk 
Date:   2006-08-08 13:20

hi, could you set up a chamber group that you could do purely for fun? maybe with people not form the same stody place as you? or maybe do some conducting... something msuical but without the pressure of clarinet and college pressure?

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 Re: burnt out
Author: GBK 
Date:   2006-08-08 13:50

Laurie -

Perhaps you remember this thread from a few years ago, about my friend who (after a long and successful clarinet career) decided to quit the clarinet completely.

It might be worth reading again to gain some new insight:


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 Re: burnt out
Author: Bob Phillips 
Date:   2006-08-08 14:50


Remember how smart and hard working you were when YOU were 3-years younger?

As you slack off in your work from Galactic to merely Stellar are you shorting yourself? Or, can you recover?

If you only need 4-units a semester for your sequence,
1.) take the opportunity to increase your academic breadth, and/or
2.) get off -campus a few hours a day --work a part time job, tutor, teach music students, coach, ...

In grad school, I kept having my thesis advisors take sabbaticals. I'd then have to "break-in" a new prof. That meant taking his specialty course sequence. That was irritating! BUT, all those extra studies turned out to provide breadth to my skill set and helped greatly in my career.

By time I got out of schook, I was really ready to break out. Ever since, I've missed the intellectual give and take of the university. I still love to hit a university library, gather a bunch of books and sit in a study carrel to study something new.

Bob Phillips

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 Re: burnt out
Author: Laurie 
Date:   2006-08-08 15:31

At the first university, going into my JR year my clarinet professor retired. I spent a year studying with the new teacher they hired, had a real tiff about me and we did not get along at all. It was extremely hard to work with him and i don't feel i learned as much as i should have that year. I had an unfavorable jury and a rough semester ( 3 immediate family deaths, and a messy breakup of a long term relationship ) After considering my options, i decided to transfer. The quality of the program wasn't the same as when i started and i was miserable there.

I transfered with a 3.4. I'm a sister of SAI and i tutored reading. I do community service and volunteer work. I had an entire psychology minor that i lost when i transfered ( You can only transfer in 75 credits to any university, I left with 100 ) I'm an Emergency Medical Technician and a Pharmacy Technician. I was on E-board of Campus Rescue, and worked with kids at the counseling center. I ran sections and scale club. I've always worked hard and put forth my best. My last semester at the first school i spent a semster teaching first grade general music.

I transfered and had a very successful first year. It was hard retaking a lot of classes and sitting through stuff i did 3 years ago but i did it. I was playing mid section in ensembles, performed in a quartet, played in a few great masterclases. My playing has improved. But the lack of love is there. I don't mind taking classes with kids younger then me. I know you mis read that, I do respect them for the talent and the skills they posess. And I learn things from them and vise versa. I guess i get frustrated, when they act like the're better then me, because i have to retake all these classes, that they've done. And that hurts because i've been through the program not once but twice.

I know all i can do is make the best of this. I'm taking choral conducting next semester, because i can't take anything more in the instrumental track, as well as lookign into minors. If this is all not possible. I'm moving off campus and working part time and being a part time student - thus only taking the 2 required classes.

I'm just so sick of the drama and the school rivarly. I feel like somdays its not even about me and the courses, its more about where i came from. I feel like it's a game.. even tho i took the same course at the first school.. Because my current school and old school are rivals within the NYS school system i feel like its like they have to prove that the're better and that my prior school is "inferior", thus making me re-take the course. I know this is riduculous and probably all in my head... but 1/2 the time when i walk out of meetings that is how i feel.

I just wished i loved playing like i use to. I really have no motivation anymore, and just want to get out. I'd do anything to get out. I havn't had an easy time over the past four years, but i work hard. I work extremely hard. I wish that meant something. I know in a competitve school such that i'm in, i'm not going to find any support and or achnolodgment of any accomplishments. Going to school for music has truly killed the love of studying music.

Your comments back are greatly appreciated and truly show me a different view point. I thank you and apprecite it more then you know.

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 Re: burnt out
Author: Ken Shaw 2017
Date:   2006-08-13 21:33

Hi Laurie,

There are several things you need to do while you are treading water.

Get a really good writing tutor who will insist that you are careful with grammar and spelling. If you plan to be a teacher, that is the most important skill you can have. If I'm stepping on your toes, so be it. As an old college teacher, I would not accept written work from you in this state.

Secondly, quit your bellyaching. If you truly want to teach, then suck it up and play the game. It will be the best preparation for life you'll ever get. The only sure thing you'll ever find in the world is attitude - deal with it. Even if you are retaking classes, use that experience to really nail the subject matter and look for every new insight you can. No one teaches the same class or material the same way.

Thirdly, pick your student teaching school very carefully. When I was in junior and senior high school, we were the guinea pigs for so many student teachers that we devised all sorts of torture to get revenge on the school for subjecting us to student teachers and deprivng us of our real teachers. A couple of years, we had 3 student teachers for band. Our favorite prank was to demand to play the Poet and Peasant Overture, which we proceded to butcher. Several of the teachers discovered that they preferred a different occupation -- one of them being my cousin. Multiply this by 5 or 6 academic classes, and it's a wonder we ever learned anything. TALK ABOUT BURN OUT - You ain't seen nothin' honey.

Fourth, good luck and knock 'em dead. It's only music -- not life, death, Iraq, Lebanon or Darfur.

Mary Vinquist

Post Edited (2006-08-13 22:38)

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 Re: burnt out
Author: Chalumeau Joe 
Date:   2006-08-13 22:03

Burnout and clinical depression are closely related...burnout isn't something that should be treated lightly. If your feelings persist, then you may want to seek medical advice.


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 Re: burnt out
Author: clarinets1 
Date:   2006-08-14 21:12

I had someone tell me once that the quickest way to hate your instrument is to major in it.

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 Re: burnt out
Author: Gretchen 
Date:   2006-08-14 21:57

Take some time off. the thing that gets me back from "burn out" mode is to miss it...and the only way you can miss it is to take some time off. I know it's bad timing, being that it's August...but next time you have a break (like a fall /winter/spring break) don't practice, dont' touch your instrument. You'll feel refreshed when you go back to it. If you dont...well, maybe that's a sign you shouldn't go back.

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 Re: burnt out
Author: clarinet@55 
Date:   2006-08-15 01:51

I'm not a music major , but I admire anyone , who is. I could have been , but I chose another route. I could have been a teacher, but chose another route. I went for what I knew I would be happy doing, I work as an Electrician, technician,for t he Arizona Republc Newspaper in Phoenix,AZ.
I had ab extremel rough go of it as an electrical apprentice for 4 yrs. Then I was ofered a chance to work maintenance for PABST Brewing Co. in Peoria Heights,Ill. I knew then that keeping equiptment running was what I wanted to do. There were times during my 4 year apprenticeship, when I was ready to give it all up, but I was fortunate to have other people , who believed in me. The botom rule I followed was "to do what you know you'd be happy doing." I feel happy & fulfilled doing thistype of work, even though I had a dream of being a teacher, Industrial arts , not music, I'm glad that I took this route.
Ask yourself,"Is this what I really want and would be happy doing?"
Only you can answer this and know in your heart that the time you spend to make it come true will be worth it.
I hope I've helped you and not preached on this soap box too long.

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 Re: burnt out
Author: clarinet@55 
Date:   2006-08-15 02:03

Please forgive my post script(addition) to my previous post, but I felt I needed to add this. My HS band director,R.Vroman, helped me to understand that I could be much more than "just a clarinet player". He helped build my self confidence and improve my abilities by his unceasing help. He made music learning FUN! In my 4 yrs in HS band , I learned how to work with others and much.much.more. Your hard work will speak for itself to your students. Don't give up your dream.

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 Re: burnt out
Author: BTBob 
Date:   2006-08-21 02:27

Ken Shaw wrote:
"The only sure thing you'll ever find in the world is attitude - deal with it"

Spoken like a true that where you're from or just your internet provider? ;)

BTW, I take it you are culturally conservative and don't believe there is such a thing as "burnout"...????

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 Re: burnt out
Author: kev182 
Date:   2006-08-21 11:22

Yea, i totally understand where your coming from. I feel like smashing my clarinet in the mirror after i can't play a certain passage in a jury piece, and the jury is the next day! I sometimes feel i practice to simply do what my teacher asks..I work hard as well to do what im told, but sometimes hate it. If you want to become a pro, you need to work hard. Just like if you want to be a doctor, medschool is definetly not fun. Your practcing has to be work and not play all the time. But the rewards of hardwork are incredible. Think of how you have improved! I listened to my audition tape for entrance i did last year, and i made a recording now. The difference is incredible. After practicing some technical etudes, sit back and play your favorite piece and savor the pure sweet music.

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 Re: burnt out
Author: Ken Shaw 2017
Date:   2006-08-21 12:59

To BtBob,

Boy, did you get me wrong! Yes, I live in Brooklyn, but I'm originally a farmer's daughter from Lake Wobegon, Minnesota. And there we called them as we saw them. PC was not in our vocabulary.

Laurie's problem sounds much more like "bum out" rather than "burn out". According to her initial post, she got a teacher she didn't like and rather than work it out, she transferred. Then the new school had requirements not to her liking. Why she didn't check that out before transferring is mystery to me. I suspect she is suffering from unmet unrealistic expectations. However, these circumstances do not amount to burn out.

I taught at a college for 11 years and heard every excuse in the book. I also had a private studio during that period and the two situations involved a more than 1000-mile commute every week during the school year.

I was also a floor counselor at IU for two years and a housemother at Boston U the year the Boston Strangler was prowling less than a mile from our house. I have some really shaggy dog stories from those years.

So that I could retire with a bit of a war chest, I worked in technology at Citibank for 15 years where we were expected to work a minimum of 50 hours a week and to be on call 24/7/365, including vacations. That's a burn out job.

Oh, BTW, I am no cultural conservative, having been a bleeding heart liberal since the age of five. I just think people should take responsibility for their actions and accept the consequences. My hope is that Laurie will use this situation in a positive way and make lemonade out of her lemon.

Mary Vinquist

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 Re: burnt out
Author: Brenda 2017
Date:   2006-08-21 15:34

It's good to hear your comments, Mary. When we get many years under our belt, with multiple children, work responsibilities, college, lessons, etc etc we tend to no longer sugar-coat things. I understand the frustration of having my kids say they CAN'T do something or complain about their lot in life, when the person they're speaking with, me, has been there PLUS and can still run circles around them. Life isn't easy. Burn-out happens and has to be dealt with, but it's true that many times we don't listen to others and then suffer the consequences. Difficulties aren't always a bad thing because, as you said, we learn a lot from those experiences that we otherwise wouldn't have learned if life was too easy. Those lessons in life carry over into all other areas of life, to successfully deal with things that are thrown at us and being better people for having gone through the experience.

So Laurie, consider the advice of those who've commented and maybe you can adjust your schedule and simplify your life to avoid so much pressure. I'm sure most if not all of us have had these "burn-out" days. But always look at the positive side of the situation, of what you're learning and how this will help you mature as a person. You can choose to focus on the negative side, or focus on the positive. Someone told me an interesting quote, "A bird can land on your head, but whether it's allowed to build a nest there depends on whether you let it stay." What you allow your mind to dwell on is an actual choice you make each moment of the day.

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 Re: burnt out
Author: BTBob 
Date:   2006-08-21 16:44

Mary, sorry I mis-identifed you as Ken and as a "neo-con". <making my "oops" face>

Laurie, I agree with Mary in so far that you should make truly informed decisions on your program. Sometimes students who want to be good soldiers and get along, don't stand up for their own best interest. Are you "questioning" and communicating enough with your teachers? If not you really can feel powerless.

Music is a sink or swim, all or nothing game, but that doesn't mean you are not entitled to take charge of your own education.

Brenda, its good to hear YOUR comments as well. I got burnt out myself awhile back (about playing and other things) and you have a well rounded POV on all that.

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 Re: burnt out
Author: BTBob 
Date:   2006-08-21 16:54

Oh yeah...FDF, your advice is kindest of all! I wish I had had it once.

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