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Things I Wish I Brought with Me to My First Semester of Music School

This year has been nothing close to normal when it comes to college. Many students are dealing with whether or not to move back to campus, online classes, and a new social environment. As a musician, these struggles are intensified because of the high volume of in-person requirements and needs. Armed with a laptop, a music stand and some earbuds, I thought I had all I needed to tackle my first semester of both in-person and online music classes. I was so, so incredibly wrong. Here are some things that I wish I had brought with me.

A Camera and Tripod

This semester, the majority of my performance related assessments were conducted online, through video clips. At first, I was able to manage with my cell phone and webcam, but eventually, I ran out of storage on my phone, and I needed better video and microphone quality. Since Fall Juries were moved from in-person performances, I found myself in a situation where I needed high-quality video and sound, but couldn’t find a camera. I ended up recording all of my final exam videos over Thanksgiving break, which meant that I couldn’t relax as much as I wanted to. 

With so many exams, performances, and classes being moved online, trust me, you are going to want to take with you a camera with video taping abilities and a tripod to hold the camera for you while you do your thing. If you don’t want to bring a camera, a tripod with a cell phone holder will still come in handy!

High Quality Headphones

I was lucky. DePauw provided me with a pair of really nice noise cancelling headphones. They were so nice and so helpful! Studio classes were moved online, and as a result, I was doing a lot of listening through crappy built-in speakers and earbuds. Having a great pair of headphones made the listening experience better, and also made wearing listening devices more comfortable, as earbuds can get irritating after a while. 

You might also want to get an adapter for the headphones which allow you to plug them in to your keyboard. I had an adapter that could do that, which allowed me to practice piano late at night without disturbing my neighbors. 

Over the Door Hanging Mirror

I use mirrors a lot when I practice. They allow me to check my posture and breathing, as well as my facial expressions and jaw/mouth positions. I didn’t think about how my dorm room wouldn't have a mirror. Since I used my room for the majority of my independent practicing, due to COVID restrictions, I found myself feeling frustrated without a practice mirror. I would recommend bringing a hanging mirror that can be hung over the door for damage free hanging. You can easily hang a mirror on the inside of your dorm room door, or on the outside of your closet. 

Small Adjustable Stool

Everyone in the School of Music had to bring their own keyboard, so that if our access to piano practice rooms was cut off, we could still have a way to play and practice. I knew that my dorm room was going to be equipped with a chair, which I was told would be the right height. Well, being on the shorter side, it was not actually the right height. I had to sit on pillows to get to the right height so I wasn’t reaching upwards for the piano keys. Having an adjustable stool would have been so nice. Plus, when you aren’t using it to play an instrument, it doubles as seating!

A Ton of Black Folders and Binders

I brought with me a mix of around 5 binders and folders in black, and I still didn’t have enough. Each ensemble and music class I took requested that the class have its own black binder or folder. I had to double up, despite the fact that the materials were supposed to be separated. My advice? If you think you have enough black folders and binders, you don’t. Buy extras. You will use them eventually. 

3 Hole Puncher

This one is a little bit odd, but I do recommend you have one of these or at least access to one. All my music needed to go into three-ringed binders, and I didn’t have a hole puncher in my dorm. That meant that I had to walk across campus to the library each time I wanted to punch a hole in my papers. Talk about time consuming and inconvenient! Do yourself a solid and bring one with you. If you don’t use it, chances are one of your friends will need to borrow it. 

I hope this small list of items can help you, or save you from a pinch! I will certainly be bringing these items with me next semester. 

Emily Scharf

DePauw '24

Emily is a vocal performance major at DePauw University! She loves all things creative, fun, and musical.
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