Be True to Your School
Members of Growl, Little Lo, and Mother Falcon navigate UT
By Zoe Cordes Selbin, 4:07PM, Fri. Sep. 14, 2012
In last week’s column on interviewing, I mentioned that school was back in session. It’s difficult for me to balance school and work, but I don’t have near the challenge that student musicians do.
With gigs at night and class in the morning, plus finding time to practice, knowledge seekers who are also gigging musicians face a tight rope act not many can pull off. I was curious how they make it work, so I talked to three of my friends who are both UT students and musicians.
Timing, it seems, is extremely important. Once you get a class syllabus, you have to start mapping out when you can and can’t take shows. RTF student Santi Dietche, singer for Growl, noted that scheduling shows the night before a test is an obvious no-no.
“There are certain times of year that I know in advance will be awful for working on music,” explains Dietche. “Midterms and finals are the worst for gigs. But if there’s a recording opportunity, I’ll try to work out school around it.”
A lot also rides on how important one perceives an opportunity.
“If you care about music, being in school is going to be hard,” admits Sam Houdek, drummer of Little Lo and also an RTF student. “I put music first, because it’s always more fulfilling for me. I can recover from a D, but not from skipping a really important show.
“Shows can’t be put off. Once the opportunity to play is gone, it’s gone.”
It’s daunting to consider the fleeting nature of the live music business, but some students deal with it by keeping a pretty clean separation. Nick Gregg, a singer and cellist of Mother Falcon, is a student of architecture – a notoriously demanding major at UT.
“I try to use my weekdays for school, and spend my weekends on shows and music,” says Gregg. “You have to prioritize shows. Too many shows cause stress and overburden both your band and your audience.”
And when school and music do conflict, fear not.
“Professors are human too,” points out Gregg. “If you give them a few weeks notice, they can often work with you if you have to skip class. It’s a case by case basis, but I’ve only had good experiences.”
Dietche agrees, adding, “My major is all about the arts, so the advisers are totally cool. They’re more than willing to help out.”
Each student has their tips for academic success. For Houdek, it’s all about knowing when to leave the show: “Avoid partying post-show... I’m not always good about that, but sometimes you just have to stay up late after the show to write your paper.”
Gregg keeps sane by “always being ahead of schedule,” finishing assignments before they're due, which gives one greater leeway for last minute band practices.
And finally, Dietche finds ways to make studying more musical.
“There’s so many sensory connections,” he exclaims. “I make up little jingles to help me remember things for my homework.”
Whether you’re a committed student with a music project, or a musician who's going to school, your academics and band can find harmony, but it takes the same work that both disciplines demand.