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The Performance Major's Survival Manual: Part 1 - Time Management

Table of Contents


Part 1 - Time Management

1. Goal Planning

2. Time Management Tools‚Äč

Part 2 - Stress Management

1. Stress and anxious 

2. Burn-out

3. Stage Fright and Audition Stress

4. Stresses in Personal Life

5. Finances

6. Extreme Stress

7. Help with Disabilities

8. Writing and Spelling Help

9. Transportation Issues

10. Housing Issues

11. Stresses at School

12. Being a Performance Major

Part 3 - Health Management

1. Eat right, sleep well

2. Affordable Doctors

3. Dentists

4. Eye Doctors

5. Colds and the Flu

6. Allergies

7. Sore Throats

8. Injuries

9. Marijuana

Printable Activity Sheets


*Photos and clip art in this guide have been used courtesy of*

Part 1: Time Management

1.  Goal planning

     ~~What are my life goals as a performing artist, so that I’m happy?

     ~~What are my goals based realistically on who I am?

     ~~Planning out my education and training, here at Valencia and beyond

     ~~How do I set GOALS I can actually make happen?


2. Time management tools

             ~~How do I balance everything in my life—school, study time, work,

                 auditions performances, family, friends, social life, my personal life…?

             ~~How do I manage my over-crowded schedule?

             ~~How do I make a to-do list for today, this week, this month, this year, 

                 so I reach my goal to be a performing artist?


Goal Planning

1.  Goal planning

~~What are my life goals as a performing artist, so that I’m happy?

~~What are my goals based realistically on who I am?


Time Management starts with GOAL Planning.  Let’s plan your career path as a performer.  Your goals have to be drawn according to what you value, what you need, what you want as person and as an artist.  So the first activity is called a “Motivation Journal.”  I created this for my acting and vocal students and my private clients to get them motivated to take charge of their dreams and make them reality.  Consider these questions carefully, print it out, and put pen to paper to answer these.


Activity 1.1

Develop a Positive Audition Attitude

Develop a Positive Audition Attitude
by Ginny Kopf

To get through the stresses of an audition, you need an “attitude adjustment!”  Did you know that your thoughts are showing?  A director can “read” your mind.  They have to be good mind-readers, to know if you are competent and will be able to follow their directions with confidence.  What you are thinking is directly reflected in your body language and tone of voice.  It shows in your eyes, eye contact, gestures, posture, and every little move.  It shows in your tone of voice, volume, clarity and inflection. 

          But positive thinking—positive self-talk—is something that has to be practiced.  We so often allow negative self-talk to invade our brain.  Positive self-talk will drive out negative thoughts.  You can’t just slap yourself on the hand and say, “Stop thinking like that!  Don’t be shy!  Don’t mess up!” Our brains don’t work like that.  Nor can you, or should you, try to empty your mind.  We have to literally PUSH OUT those negative thoughts with a positive thought.

          Here are the thoughts that should be running through your mind.  These will to help you make the best impression, and build up your audition confidence.


I LIKE ME.  (balanced self-image) I’m special.

I like me, I like you, I like this! 

I belong here! (authority) I have every right to be up here.

I’ve got something worth sharing with you that I’m positive you’ll enjoy.        

If you decide not to “buy” what I’m selling, that’s okay, because my DIGNITY is not affected by this. I’m going to walk away today with the same dignity I walked in here with.

I know my strengths and how to use them.  I’m aware of my weaknesses but I’m not at all crippled by them. 

I’m ENJOYING myself immensely. 

I don’t want to be anywhere but here with you right now. 

I’m BALANCED, focused, (which is what “poise” is all about). 

I’m hard-working, committed, efficient.

I would be a plus to your company.  I can get the job done. 

I’m flexible, adaptable to changes, and work well with others. 

I can be a strong leader and I also know how to follow.

I maintain a positive attitude even under pressure situations like this.

I will project a completely positive professional image for your company.


          You need to pep talk yourself!  Pump yourself up!  These kind of positive affirmations will drive out the nagging little negatives that pop into your head.  Here are some phrases you can adopt for yourself—your own little pep rally.

          “You can do it!

          You go, girl! [buddy!]                                   

          You’re the bomb!                                                            

          They’re gonna love ya!                                                     

          They’re gonna eat this up.  Everyone wants to hear what you have to say!  Doggone it, people like me!            

          This is gonna go just like I rehearsed—smooth as silk.

          You know your stuff!       

          You’re gonna knock it outta the park!                              

          So, go out there and knock em dead, buddy!   

          You’re gonna charm their socks off with your winning personality! 

          Go kick bootie!!


          Do be specific, too, about what you LIKE about yourself.  For example:  “I’ve got a great smile!  I have great teeth, a nice voice/great eye contact, a cute bootie…” whatever.  “I’m smart, I’m friendly, they’re gonna love me.  I’m havin’ a good hair day.”

          Keep the positives coming the entire time you walk in, up the steps, across the stage, AND also the entire time you say “thank you” and walk out of the audition.

          If stage fright or negativity is keeping you from doing your very best at an audition, practice reprogramming your mind with these suggestions.  Make your own personal pep talk.  Literally say it aloud to pump yourself up.  There is power in the spoken word.  Olympic athletes know about training the mind to be a winner, just as importantly as training physically. 

          Need some encouragement or guidance in your path to confidence?  Feel free to contact me.

Next: Time Management

So, you've completed "My Motivation Journal."  You've begun to answer:

~~What are my life goals as a performing artist, so that I'm happy?

~~What are my goals based realistically on who I am?


Activity 1.2


Now we get to the next part of Time Management:

~~How do I plan out my education here at Valencia (and beyond)?

Activity 1.3

Planning Your Classes

Planning Your Classes

Are you asking:  I’m not even sure which elective classes to take that will lead me to my performance career?  USE your professors as resources.  They can offer a wealth of advice.  Nearly all of your Fine Arts professors (AND adjunct professors) continue to work in their field, in the community and beyond.  They have years of enthusiastic experience they can share with you.  Interview them!  Here’s a selection from What Freshman Dance Majors Need to Know.

“Embrace learning!  You are fortunate to have the means and opportunity to be surrounded by knowledge, to have those who are specialists in their field around the corner, to be provided with resources and experiences that will serve you for years to come.  This is a chance that comes pretty much once during a typical lifetime.  Don’t squander an opportunity of which so many around the world can only dream.” p. 13.

“You see, at this moment you may be absolutely certain about where you want your dance dream to take you. But I’m here to tell you, as living proof, that the shape, contour, and outcome of your dance path are impossible to predict for reasons too numerous to even mention. Go ahead and explore your interests, let your curiosities lead you and let this process alter and reshape your dream. Don’t fight it because, frankly, your dream is bound to transform with or without your consent.

“At the same time, don’t underestimate the value of proper planning while pursuing your passions. Meet with your faculty and advisors early and often to discuss how your dreams and curiosities are metamorphosing. Form relationships with fellow students and guest artists. Network. Ask questions. Get recommendations for programs, opportunities, and next steps.

You can unlock your dream and transform it into a life in dance [or theatre or music!] that is completely unique. As they are when unlocking a piece of choreography, the keys to this evolution are preparation and inquisitiveness.” p. 39.

From ebook, Transitioning to CollegeWhat Freshman Dance Majors Need to Know, by Catherine L. Tully, p. 13, 39.

Majoring in Music but off to a late start?

Are you asking:  I want to major in music but feel like maybe I’m off to a late start—that it’s too late to catch up?  It’s not.



The link will say file not found, but click on "Prep and Planning" link, then the pull-down menu on "Planning to Major in Music."  Then scroll down for the article by Tom Hynes, “Want to major in music but off to a late start?”

If you're a music major, you'll find lots of wonderful articles in that menu you may want to read.

Double Majors and Minors?

What about being a double major?  Or minoring in the arts?  Check with your career counselor and advisor about this.  And be cautious, because you may have to take more courses because of the requirements of the two different departments. 

Read the article, “Dual Degrees, Double Majors, and Majoring in Music,” by Caitlin Peterkin.



The link will say "not found" but click on "Preparation and Planning," then the pull-down menu on "Tips for Music Majors." Then scroll down for the article "Dual Degrees, Double Majors."  

Setting Goals I can make happen

So now you should have a clearer picture of your life-goals and a plan of action for the COURSES you need and want to take in your major at Valencia.  So what’s next?

A vital part of Time Management is to first SET GOALS, but…

~~How do I set GOALS I can actually make happen?


You need to make a to-do list of specific goals—the specific tasks you want to accomplish—this week, this month, this year.  You need to do this so that your goals have legs; so they aren’t just pie-in-the-sky dreams.  You actually get things done every week and are steadily working on reaching your larger goal of being a performing artist.  In other words, you are a “professional performing artist” right now, not hoping to be one in the future. 



How to make Your To-Do List

Here is a simple to-do list instructions and template that I wrote that turns your goals into tasks—tasks that are specific and do-able.

How to create your To-Do list

On the next page is your To-Do list template.  Make yourself a schedule for your tasks for the WEEK, the MONTH, the YEAR, of specific things you’re going to do to further along your career.  Goals/tasks you plan to do should be specific in these three areas: Training, Networking, Promo.  This is what you, as a professional artist, must do on an ongoing basis to reach your star.

~~A.  Training

            Take classes

            Take classes outside my field, to meet other types of people

            Go to special workshops in town

            Practice on my own—what specifically will you work on this week?

            Get private coaching

            Get together with other performers to practice

            Plan out showcases, recitals, look for opportunities to perform

~~B.  Networking

            Get in the loop, talk to everybody, everywhere

            Go to events (plays, art festivals, concerts, museum events, etc.)

            Watch media

            Listen to commercials

            Have meeting with people to pick their brains

            Get mentors

            Go to classes

            Be a guest at someone else’s class

            Join networking groups

            Read/research (articles, trade papers, newspapers, books on your field, videos)

            Make calls to old and new friends and contacts in the field

~~C.  Promo

            Develop demo

            Have demo copies dubbed

            Design of font/logo for your name

            Artwork for CD cover

            Stationary for cover letter--pick paper, develop and carry out your design

            Cover letter contents



            Post card design for follow-up mailings          

            Web site?

            Mailing list

            The mailing packaging (folder, 8x11mailing envelope)

            Delivery plan (to who, when, where)

            Keep promo journal to keep track of all mailings and make networking notes

            Plan a schedule for re-mailings, sending postcards, and following up on all contacts

Your To-Do list is below.  Keep this handy in a notebook or calendar on your phone, so you have it with you.  Update it weekly and monthly.

Activity 1.4

Time Management Tools

2.   Time management tools

Now we get to the HOWS—How do I actually plan out my class/work/personal life schedule so that I’m happy and satisfied, AND so I don’t burn out?


            ~~How do I balance everything in my life—school, study time, work,               auditions, performances, family, friends, social life, my personal life…?

        ~~How do I manage my over-crowded schedule?

        ~~How do I make a to-do list so that I get things done, and don’t burn out?

10 Common Time Management Mistakes

This YouTube video on “10 Common Time Management Mistakes” summarizes what we’ll be covering in this section.  

And Beat Academy, a music production academy in Chicago, has put together a webisode called, “Common Time Management Mistakes.” 

Making your own time management plan

Here are some ideas on making your own Time Management PLAN.

This is an article online written for college students, by the Learning Strategies Center at Cornell University, “A Simple, Effective Time Management System”:




Activity 1.5



Activity 1.6

How to balance an acting career with work and school

Watch this YouTube video with great insights on how to manage a day job/class schedule AND pursue your acting career.  (Dancers and musicians, watch this too!)

Casting director Erica Arvold, CSA, and acting coach Richard Warner give advice on how to balance a day job or class schedule AND pursue your acting career, and what you should keep in mind? 

Also see Arvold's youtube channel

The 1 Time Management Formula Actors Need

The 1 Time Management Formula Actor’s Need.”                                                                          

Gwyn Gilliss, acting coach and Backstage Experts contributor writes:  “Most actors I’ve met are perpetually “busy,” stressed or guilty that they aren’t accomplishing enough—that their careers aren’t going forward. When you have a schedule, life gets easier. You feel like you’re accomplishing more…and you are! Time isn’t wasted and you can see progress.”  p 1.  She created a time management system that could work for you.


Activity 1.7



Activity 1.8


Creating a work/school balance

Here’s some tips from a college student’s perspective:  This is from “Creating a work/school balance (a college student perspective) by Keisha M. Carr, Unigo, written as a junior at The University of Maryland/Baltimore, 5/29/2015.

She shows examples of her own excel chart, and how she color-codes it to keep it straight.  Then she schedules in a “contingency plan” for those times she’s slammed with school work. 



Activity 1.9


Prioritizing is the key to Time Management, and difficult to do!  School of Music Mentor, Theresa Whitehead, at Western Carolina University has some advice in her article, “Mentoring Monday: Time Management & Prioritizing Schedules.”



Activity 1.10

Advice on Prioritizing

Here’s advice on prioritizing for dance majors, from the ebook Transitioning to College: What Freshman Dance Majors Need to Know, by Catherine L. Tully, p. 15




Schedule it.  Once you find out what time of day works well for you, schedule yourself some study time in that slot. If you schedule time for class work before you schedule any social activities, you shouldn’t have as much trouble getting it done. Leaving things “fluid” makes it easy to put studying off until later.”  p. 15

About getting distracted:


Find a balance. There are LOTS of things in college life that can distract you from your primary purpose (succeeding at getting an education). You don’t have to abstain from all of the lovely little distractions. However, if you like to indulge yourself, accept the responsibility that comes with your new-found freedom. It’s important to be mature enough to recognize when your dancing and/or schoolwork is suffering (without blaming it on your teachers), and then make lifestyle changes or take steps to correct the problem.  In  fact,  it’s  probably  helpful  to  apply  this  to  situations  in general from now on.”  p. 15.

For Dancers

For DANCERS:  Some additional online articles and blogs.

“Dancer Time Management Tips” by Melanie Rembrandt April 4, 2011

Ways to maximize the amount of dancing you get into your day as a student.




Practical and easy to read tips from a young dancer, Savanna, “Time Management Tips for Dancers” Dec. 7, 2013



For Music Majors

For Music majors:   Read this blog, helping you realize you can’t do it all as a music major; how to plan your time so you don’t burn out, and most of all, to stay passionate about the music.

“Time Management 101” the blog from Bob Cole Conservatory of Music, Aug. 15, 2015



Procrastination & Perfectionism

“Do you feel frustrated by procrastination?    Perfectionism?     Plain old confusion on what’s the best use of your time?  You’re not alone.” 

This is the subtitle for “Improving Your Time Management” in the Actor’s Fund blog.  

A few more articles on procrastination

Here are a few more articles and video’s to help you understand and tame your procrastination:  “PROCRASTINATION: How to control a Student’s Worst Enemy,” and “Overcoming procrastination,” which offers some great tips.                                     



Video: “15 Ways to Overcome Procrastination and Get Stuff Done (Infographic)”  See the video below AND read the article.


“Overcoming Procrastination”  video

Procrastination: How to Control a Student’s Worst Enemy”

Admit you’re a PROCRASTINATOR….that’s a step.  It’s most likely the most common “excuse” college students give to why they didn’t complete their projects.  Excuses and "sorrys" are worthless to your professors--they aren't the Pope who can forgive you.    Big tip:  You KNOW the end of the term is going to be slammed.  So plan ahead.  Make a huge, disciplined effort to get those big projects like term papers done before the last two weeks.  Then you’ll be freed up to rehearse for the final performances and juries that are due the last week.  Get it done, get it in.  You’ll be so relieved you did!

Activity 1.11



Activity 1.12


Activity 1.13