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by Catherine Zachary, and contributors Rachel Despard (Class of ’20), Abigail Lloyd (Class of ’20), and Aaron Park (Class of ’21)

Welcome, new Tar Heels! We’re so excited you’re here, and can’t wait to see (and hear) all that you accomplish in your four years. We know how overwhelming it can sometimes be in your first year though and wanted to put together a list of tips to help get you past those first-day jitters! Below is a list of things that our music students have learned over the years and wished they’d known on their first day.

(Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)


“Sign up for an ensemble first semester! Don’t put it off until the back end of the four years. One of the best ways to make friends and particulate in some stellar music.”

“Sometimes it can get hard to find time to practice – plan ahead to set aside practice time to ensure you don’t neglect your musical studies.”

“Keep introducing yourself to people! I know you just end up repeating yourself, but you never know who might become your next study buddy or lifelong pal!”

“Find the Blue Ram Cafe! Closest snack shack to the music buildings and the nicest ladies run the register! (Might catch a few music professor sightings there too!)”

“Bring a jacket (even in August) if you have a class in Hill 107! It’s like a refrigerator some days.”

“Take a class pass-fail in another department outside of music. Gives you a chance to enjoy another area of study but if you’re swamped all you gotta do is pass it!”

“Get a locker in Hill Hall or Kenan Music Building. Wish I had done that my first year.”

The Marching Tar Heels
(Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)

“Try out different ensembles, form your own music groups, study abroad, apply for grants; it might seem intimidating, but you will be surprised by what you’re capable of. Getting out of your comfort zone will help you grow immensely.”

“Set aside time to go to the gym and get some physical activity! Exercise not only helps you to de-stress, but increases focus, energy, and a discipline to succeed in college.”

“Get involved in one or two clubs/organizations that you can make a difference and gain recognition – this will help you to make strong connections and grant you opportunities for future leadership opportunities.”

“Sleep when you are tired! Studies show that working when exhausted actually decreases your overall productivity. Go to bed early and avoid all-nighters.”

“Create a chamber music group! There is nothing more fun than playing music with other students who have musical passions!”

“The music department has incredible resources- get to know your professors, discuss your interests, and take advantage of all the opportunities you have available to you. Our professors are incredibly knowledgeable and accomplished- they have a lot of wisdom to share. Talk about your interests with them and your peers to help discover your academic and professional direction. Putting yourself out there will only help you go farther.”

In the end, get out there, meet new people, try new things, make lots of music, study hard, practice hard, take care of yourself, and above all have fun experiencing all that Carolina has to offer in the four years you’re here.

Welcome, Class of ’23!

(Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)
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