A few days in the life of Jenny Smith

Written by: Izzy Swift

The images below are representative of what a normal weekday looks like for Jenny. These are weeks that have had no major gigs, performances, or exams. These weeks get even more intense and involve many sleepless nights, tantrums and lots and lots of energy drinks. This semester, Jenny not only balanced that huge workload, but also had to fly across the country for live auditions and classes for graduate school. Music lessons are hard to zoom in on (and rehearsals impossible), so when Jenny returns from those engagements, it becomes endless catching up game.

second image of Jenny's day

As you can see, there is no time for self-care, healthy eating, or sleeping habits. Don’t even dream of hanging out with your friends between classes if you’re a music student, because you’ll be in a practice room trying to avoid criticism from your peers and mentors. But no matter how much work you put into a track, you will always be criticized because that’s how the music business works.

Below is the first page of a piece of music Jenny learned in a week for her lesson. The whole is eleven pages and lasts about thirty minutes. In a typical week, Jenny not only has to learn this piece of music for one lesson, but several more and they all have to be ready to play by the time she shows it to her teacher. In addition to these pieces, Jenny must have all her other music for orchestra, quartets, quintets and trios under her belt before rehearsals.

picture of a sheet of music

Looking at these images, one can see how demanding the life of a classical music student is. The love of the instrument and the satisfaction of winning an audition or competition keep these students going, but the unhealthy expectations and schedule are one of the reasons musicians are so prone to developing mental illnesses.