Note from the Editor: We understand that buying new instruments might not be financially possible right now. There are cheaper alternatives out there, but this is what the author recommends as an option.
By now, you’re probably sick of avoiding the sick. What is left to do when you’ve already exhausted your favorite TV shows, read all your books, and grown tired of your arsenal of video games or other hobbies? A great idea would be to learn a new musical instrument! As a music student at Thornton, I already know a few instruments, but I’m taking this opportunity to improve my skills and even to learn a new one. Here’s a brief guide detailing some things to consider when starting out.
The starting place for learning a new instrument is first acquiring an instrument to learn. There are many places to start for something like this, so normally it’s best to go into a physical store and talk to someone who can help you figure out what you’re looking for. Unfortunately, with coronavirus so pressing, it may be a little difficult to go somewhere like Guitar Center to get that help, and you may have to resort to ordering online. Here are a few options to help you get an idea!
For acoustic guitar: There are three examples I have for you as far as price and quality of instrument go. First, the guitar I currently play on is an older Takamine guitar, so it isn’t listed on Amazon; however a similar model is this Takamine Acoustic-Electric for $700. The professional features of a model like this include a beautifully resonant body and a dependable neck for being in tune. The biggest contributor to the cost is the “plug-in” part, with a tuner and some other fancy options on it. However, that’s an example of a very high-end instrument. The average beginner guitar that I started on when I was ten years old is the Baby Taylor for about $350. What you’re getting with this is a smaller guitar with an open body that provides nice resonance for a good sound, and still smaller distances between frets to make it easier for people with smaller hands, or just newcomers to playing guitar. And a cheap case (a necessity) is included if it is bought on Amazon! Still a little outside of your price range? Perfectly understandable if you aren’t ready to commit to a pricier instrument. The cheapest I found at first glance on Amazon is this basic beginner’s guitar set at $44.99. Included is everything you need to get started: a case, a tuner, a pick, a strap, and even extra strings! The tradeoff, though, is you may sacrifice some of its ability to keep in tune, and it might not be quite as resonant. Whatever you choose will be good for if you are just starting off!
There is a lot to prepare for as an incoming college student, or even as a current student. For those getting ready to live on campus, the list of things to do is endless. Whether it is preparing for your courses, purchasing appliances, assembling a grocery list, I would argue that the most important way to prepare is learning how to cook. I am currently a sophomore living in an apartment, which has taught me to be a little more independent. In particular, I have started learning how to cook, something which is much more complicated than it seems. I can tell you now that the first few attempts will not go perfectly, so don’t give up! I have provided some of the easiest recipes for any beginner. All of these recipes have ingredients that can be substituted to fit various diets. Now especially might be a good time to get a head start on practicing these simple recipes while we are all at home in quarantine. You can even ask your family to evaluate how good your cooking skills are by taste-testing!
Sleep is one of the most important things for a college student. However, during midterm season, too often we end up studying and working until 5 am finishing up a project or cramming for a test only to barely make it to our 9 am lectures the next day. This can be even more difficult when we are creating our own schedules when working from home. Sometimes it seems worth it to sacrifice a night of good sleep to get some extra time in to study, but good sleep is extremely important for your health – for boosting your cognition and memory, improving your mood, and decreasing your chances of getting sick.
That being said, 70% of college students are sleep-deprived, and sometimes it really is hard to fit in a full eight hours of sleep. One way for me to make up for lack of sleep is by napping. A lot of my friends don’t nap because they fear they won’t be able to sleep at night or end up napping too long and wasting time. I’ve found that different kinds of naps are really beneficial to helping me stay awake and productive.
My favorite kind of nap is the power nap, a 10-20-minute nap that is perfect for a quick boost in alertness and energy. During a power nap, you body is in non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREM), so it’s easier to get up and get back to work right after. A 60-minute nap is considered a short-term nap, and studies have shown that they are great for helping you remember facts, places you’ve been, and names and faces. A 90-minute nap is a REM nap. REM naps are best for improving creativity, emotional and procedural memory, and you’ll wake up feeling great because you will have gone through a full sleep cycle. The best time of day to nap is between 1pm-3pm, because not only is this the time of day when you experience post-lunch sleepiness and lower levels of alertness, napping at this time also is less likely to interfere with your normal sleep.