Why Study Abroad as a Music Student?

• Musicians can always benefit from studying in a new environment, with new teachers, and with a new point of view. Studying abroad allows music students to study music in a different setting and with a different teacher than their studio teacher at Lawrence, offering a new point of view. 
• Students are exposed to different cultural ideas about music, studying music, and music making. For example, students who take lessons while abroad may find themselves in a new learning environment, such as a different conservatory culture, public-style lessons, or learning entirely by ear. For students in language immersion programs, they can study their instrument in a different language, bringing a new level of comprehension and a brand new vocabulary to their second or third languages.
• Students can work with teachers that specialize in a particular area not offered at Lawrence. For some students, this means learning a new style or technique, but for others, this means learning entirely new instruments traditional to their host countries.
• One benefit of off-campus study is the possibility for experiential learning, which can be especially valuable for music students. Students can study Verdi in Milan, Mahler in Vienna, and Celtic fiddling in the British Isles. Students can immerse themselves in the local music performance scene, either as performers or audience members, gaining valuable insight about what it means to perform in different countries and cultures.
• Music students benefit from all of the other aspects of study abroad, too, such as an expanded worldview, opportunities to take classes not available on the Lawrence campus, or the chance to develop foreign language skills.

Some Common Myths about Studying Abroad as a Music Student

Myth: Between music theory, music history, and juries, I just don’t have time in my schedule!
Fact: While it’s true that music students have a lot of required sequences, it’s absolutely possible to complete all of the requirements while still studying abroad. Plan ahead and begin working with your advisor in your first or second year to determine which term would be the best one for study abroad. Most students complete their sequences by their second or third year, making off-campus study more than feasible. Additionally, students can take courses off-campus that will count towards their upper-level musicology requirements.

Myth: I can’t leave my professor for that long!
Fact: Many professors will be the first to suggest that, in fact, music students can really benefit and grow from studying with a different professor. Different teachers not only offer a different point of view, they may also offer expertise in a different area than your studio professor. For example, students have studied with Alexander technique practitioners, Hindustani violinists, and experts in improvisation.

Myth: I won’t be able to practice as much and my time abroad will cause me to regress in my musical skills!
Fact: True for musicians and non-musicians alike, an off-campus study experience will be what you make of it. For musicians, this means that if students emphasize practicing and music study while they’re off-campus, they will likely have a musically fulfilling and rigorous experience. Some programs are built around lessons, chamber music, and performance, while some programs rely on students to be motivated to seek out opportunities for musical instruction. Some programs are designed to emphasize time in the conservatory, such as the Conservatorium von Amsterdam program, offered through IES, while others allow students to determine how involved they want to be in lessons and ensembles, such as the opportunities offered at École Normale de Musique through the IES Paris – French Studies program.

Some students view a term or semester abroad as an opportunity to take a step back from their conservatory routine of long hours in the practice room to instead spend a few months immersing themselves in a different instrument, musical style, or concert culture. Other students plan their time abroad so that they may work intensively with a specific teacher in preparation for a recital. Some students find that they have less time to practice than they would on campus or that they find it difficult to dedicate the same amount of time to practicing that they do normally. To compensate, many students strike a balance between efficient, smart practicing and emphasizing the experiential learning opportunities in their host city.

Anecdotally, many students return from a study abroad experience in good shape, both musically and otherwise, and have often gone on to perform recitals, take auditions, share their new musical knowledge, and win competitions in the months after their return. If students are interested in studying abroad but concerned about falling behind, they should speak with their advisors and studio teachers to determine what type of program might be best for them and set personal goals to ensure that they are productive during their time off-campus.

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