Advice for Incoming Students

Tuesday, Aug 16, 2022
Juilliard Journal
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Students casually talking in the student lounge over coffee

Savor each moment, take time for yourself, and keep working hard!

In the spring, we asked students to reflect on the school year; some of them also gave some advice for incoming students. 

Sean Juhl (BM ’22, viola)

For string players especially, try getting together with some friends and reading chamber music as soon as possible. The end of freshman year can feel like a mad rush of people trying to form groups at the last minute. If you get a head start and explore options early, it could make that process smoother. Also it’s really fun to read through chamber music with friends in a low-stress environment.

Go to your friends’ recitals! It means a lot to any performer to see friendly faces in the audience, and every single one of your classmates is an amazing artist who deserves to have their hard work heard. I’ve learned so much about my own playing and musicality just by  watching my classmates play, and that’s honestly one of the biggest things I’m going to miss.

Don’t forget to push the lock button on your practice room door. People take it personally.

Jada German (BFA ’22, dance)

Just be you. When I got to Juilliard and witnessed the exceptional talent of my peers, I got caught up in trying to be worthy of being here. But the truth is, you were chosen to be here purposefully and because the faculty saw something in you.

Don’t forget to call your family! They’re the ones who watched you grow into the artist you are today, and they’ve supported you through all the late-night rehearsals, weekend trips for performances, hugs after rejection, and cheers for your accomplishments. Try to include them—you’ll be glad you did.

Be a student of the city as much as of the school. Go to shows, visit  museums, walk around Central Park, go to Chinatown, take a painting class. There’s so much potential for learning and new experiences, but you won’t see it if you just seclude yourself in a studio or practice room.

Ziyi Wang (MM ’22, collaborative piano, Tianjin Juilliard School)

The time goes by fast. Take pictures and enjoy every second!

Arianna Gayle Stucki (Group 51)

Work as hard as you possibly can—you don’t even know what you can do until you test every boundary. You’ve only got a couple years of access to this jungle gym, so use it. After doing that for a while, when your teachers say, “You’re working too hard, let go a little,” swallow your pride and do what they say. Let go. You’ll know it when you see it.

Assume other students are as scared of being found out as imposters as you are and that your teachers want the best for you. And based on that, help your classmates realize how brilliant they are, and take every challenge your teachers put in  front of you as a gift—even the ones that challenge your conception of who you are vs. how they see you. You’ll surprise yourself.

Paige Quillen is a third-year horn player

Make friends with everyone around you. Everyone here at Juilliard is so talented, and these colleagues will be people you’ll see throughout your entire career.

Learn as much as possible.

Have fun. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with how much is going on. However, being in New York City is really an amazing cure for stress. Go out, enjoy a walk in Central Park, and live in the moment.

Students around a table having an engaged discussion, reflecting student life at Juilliard

Flora Ferguson is a fourth-year dancer

Listen to yourself. At Juilliard I have learned that my intuition is my biggest truth-teller. 

You are not your first thought, you are your second thought and first action. This is something my Senior Production choreographer, Holden Cole (BFA ’22, dance), told me, and it can ring true in times of both triumph and tribulation.

Noémie Chemali (MM ’22, viola)

Take advantage of the resources offered by the Marks Center for Career Services. Try everything, and develop skills outside of performing when you have a chance. They’ll come in handy once you leave school.

You will meet extraordinary artists at this school. Try not to let competition, comparison, and jealousy destroy your inner fire. 

Trombone player Jacob Melsha (BM ’21, MM ’22, jazz studies)

Make friends in other divisions during orientation. Once classes start, it becomes harder to meet people who aren’t in your division.

Prioritize your mental health. Being an artist isn’t easy, so seek help if you need it—there’s a whole support network here for us. Take care of yourself, go easy on yourself, and love yourself.

Max Tan (Pre-College ’03, piano, ’11, violin; MM ’17, Artist Diploma ’19, violin) is a doctoral candidate

Remember that it’s always appropriate to ask for help and support when you need it. Sometimes, we need to give ourselves permission to seek mentorship and advice. It is ludicrous to assume we should bear the burden of our worries and responsibilities by ourselves. 

Listen and read carefully. Be careful not to jump to conclusions. Each situation and individual is multidimensional and there are often more sides to a story than we realize.

A mentor told me, “behind every statistic is a story, behind every number is a person.” This asks us to personalize our work, which is so crucial to artistic processes, and it also asks us to consider potential unintended consequences of our words and actions.

Master’s trombone player Jasim Perales (BM ’21, jazz studies)

Don’t get too in your head about stuff. Nothing is worth being consumed by anxiety!

Take care of yourself. Eat, sleep, and exercise. If you have time, invest in you.

Keep working hard! You’re killing it already! You’re at Juilliard!

Mezzo-soprano Xenia Puskarz Thomas (MM ’02, voice)

Try as many things as possible! The school and New York offer so much than can truly enhance every aspect of your life. Some of these aspects can be challenging, but this is a time that you can devote to experimentation, self-exploration, finding out what you like and what you don’t, and pursuing what nourishes you. I feel New York embraces mistakes, being weird, being unique, and any extreme of yourself that might seem too far out of your comfort zone. Ultimately this experimenting will not only make you a better artist but also the best version of yourself.