Give Me a Break!

As I write this column, the University of Toronto is winding down the first term, heading for the December holiday period. As end-of-term assignments and exams come due, students and faculty feel the pressure of increased workloads and looming deadlines. We’re all glad for a break.

When you make the leap from high school to university, you enjoy greater self-determination coupled with increased responsibility to manage significant demands on your time. These two worlds sometimes collide. You’ve got a major project due tomorrow; there’s a big party tonight. What to do, what to do?

Master Your Time.

Time management is one of the most important things you learn in university. If you lack this basic skill, you fall behind, making things twice as hard. For music students, there is the added demand of personal practice time. No matter how much you practice, it probably isn’t enough. Nobody clocks your practice hours except for you. If you drop the ball today, will anyone be aware of it tomorrow? Maybe not, but fall short on this assignment consistently, and the results will be evident. Every day you either get better or you get worse; there’s no standing still. Only you determine which way it goes today.

Absorb Information.

At university the flow of information is relentless, as every professor tries to cram decades of acquired knowledge into your overloaded brain. In your favor, the information overload turns you into a sponge; you absorb information at a faster rate than perhaps at any other time in your life. Despite the fact that you know you are learning a lot, hopefully enough to pass the course, you are cognizant that you are not fully grasping everything. This can be a frustrating and overwhelming realization, but it is a normal state of affairs. You’ll spend the rest of your career sorting out the information presented to you during your time at university.

Manage your time wisely, treat your personal practice time as inviolable, and make the right choice between putting the final touches on your project and cementing your reputation as a party animal.

Hope you enjoyed your break!

About the Author

Chase Sanborn is a jazz trumpet player based in Toronto. He is on the faculty at the University of Toronto and is the author of “Brass Tactics,” “Jazz Tactics,” “Tuning Tactics” and “Music Business Tactics.” Chase is a Yamaha Artist.

Visit his website at Questions about all things brass-related can be sent to

About author

Chase Sanborn

Jazz trumpeter Chase Sanborn is a Yamaha Artist and an assistant professor of jazz at the University of Toronto. Chase is the author of a series of educational books and videos on playing music. His most recent is “The Brass Tactics 6/60 Routine”. Visit Chase on the web at Also visit

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