September 12, 2018
The incoming freshman class of 2022 landed on our campus last week, and are now halfway through the first week of classes at the best contemporary music school in the world. It’s always a lot: seeing the eager faces, hearing their voices asking each other to “jam sometime,” giving directions to the hoards of them who inevitably get lost in the 150 building. It seems as though not that long ago, I was one of them: a newbie just trying to find my way inside of the Berklee bubble, hoping that it wouldn’t burst. As we welcome a new class to our school, and begin a new school year, there are a few things that we should all keep in mind (and especially freshmen) for this time ahead:
This is a campus concentrated with emotional musicians. While it may be our natural inclination to be kind, we’ll all have bad days. On those days, still be kind. It may take more of a concerted effort to do so, but it’s so necessary. If you see someone having a bad day, it’s okay to ask them if they’re okay. Conversely, if you’re the one having the bad day, it’s okay to vent to a friend. There are also counseling services on campus that can help, if you need to talk with someone impartial and unbiased. The point is: don’t be afraid to reach out.
Don’t get lost in the “honeymoon” phase
You’re here to learn, remember that. The jam sessions and shows and the allure of exploring a new city are all well and good until you fail a test! This is where your friendships can really help you. Keep each other accountable: there’s a time for fun and there’s a time for focus and discipline. If you see one of your friends traveling down the wrong path, don’t be a “yes” man (or woman). True friendship lends the ability to call out troubling patterns. Ask your friends to do the same for you.
Immerse yourself in learning opportunities
There will be tons of programming on campus: from guest speakers to listening sessions with A&R executives to cool concerts at The Red Room. These are all opportunities to get to know people who are already out in the industry, doing the work that we one day aspire to do. Even if you’re unfamiliar with the visiting guest, if the subject of their talk is of interest to you, do your research about them, attend the event, and make sure you meet them! It’s never too early to start building your network.
As a side note: get to know your faculty and staff as well! They wouldn’t be teaching at Berklee if they didn’t have some serious credentials, and even if they don’t end up being teachers in the major that you choose, it’s always great to have professors who know you and can help guide you through your challenges at Berklee and share in your triumphs. They are amazing resources.
Give yourself a break
There will be a time, probably near midterms week, where you begin to feel overwhelmed by the coursework (and maybe you’ve joined a few student clubs as well or have gigs). It’s natural, and everyone is going through it, so don’t feel alone in that! Take a nap, go for a walk, watch (ONE) episode of something on Netflix, but give yourself a break and remember that you’re human. You may see upperclassmen who seem like machines, able to do so many things at once, but remember that they’ve been here for years and have acclimated themselves to the rigor of Berklee’s academics and outside activities. You will, too.
Put yourself out there
Everyone at Berklee is talented, INCLUDING YOU. There are always groups of hidden amazing talent who we may not see until later semesters because they’ve felt intimidated by the talent of their peers. When Robert Glasper visited last year, one thing that he said stuck with me the most: “No one can beat you at being you.” Be yourself, and show us who that person is and what those talents are!
Welcome to Berklee to all of our new freshmen and wishing everyone a fun, fierce, and focused semester!
Dom Jones, Editor-in-Chief