Last semester I noticed a substantial increase in the stress level of the students at Eastman. Am I alone on this?

My theory is that the professors and teaching assistants all met sometime over the summer to discuss ways to increase the unhappiness and suicide rate amongst the hard-working students.

Apparently, they all decided to accomplish this by assigning way too much work. This work can’t possibly be done well, considering the amount of classes we have to take. Combine this with the time we have to spend practicing, performing in chamber groups and rehearsals, staying healthy by eating and exercising, socializing like an average college student ? which many Eastman students appear to sacrifice ? and time to get a healthy night’s sleep, and you’ve got a problem. The amount of work assigned usually adds up to approximately 15 hours of work each night, on average.

Additionally, the administration has decided that our school and library will only be open until 11 p.m. This forces us to try to practice with the pressure of knowing we have to complete lots of work in a limited amount of time, when it might be easier to get the work out of the way first and then have a guilt-free practice session later at night. Trying to complete all of this work leads to a major lack of sleep, causing a lack of attentiveness and a drop in grades, performance ability and morale.

Now, I know that every teacher needs to relieve his or her personal stress. I understand that they all apparently need to prove that their subject is the most important ? yes, I am talking to you, professors and TAs of theory, ear training, piano and methods ? but there are plenty of ways to teach well without making your students cry themselves to sleep.

Maybe teachers don’t realize their students are so stressed. Maybe they don’t realize that we have to compete, audition, and play in studio class and lessons.

I have decided to do the students and faculty a favor by citing some signs for teachers that students might be unhappy. It’s true that many of these signs are so discreet and subtle that they might be easily misinterpreted. This information should help guide the faculty to determine if they are unleashing too much stress on their students.

If your students constantly refer to you as “Lucifer” or “Beelzebub,” they may be a bit perturbed by the recent upswing of work. If you arrive at school and find a replica of yourself punctured by sharp objects, you may be upsetting some people. If your lectures are frequently interrupted with students questioning whether or not you have a soul, whether you believe in God, or loud screams of “Your time has come!” then you may need to diminish the amount of work you are distributing. If there are petitions going around that request for you to be strung up on the Liberty Pole and ceremonially whipped, you may want to be a little more lenient with your grading.

Finally, if some wise-ass student who is already overworked writes an article about the extreme high stress level of this school, then you should learn to take a freaking hint.

One last note: this is in no way directed towards the professors and teaching assistants of my current classes. You are all wonderful people. God bless.

Meyer can be reached at

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