From summer freedom to school year

Black Georgia State male rapper performing
Student rapper Madara performs some of his songs during his set at The Masquerade in downtown Atlanta. Submitted by @kozydigital

Transitioning into the school year can be difficult for students because time slowly starts slipping through their fingers.With all the exams and homework students need to take care of, it’s difficult for them to focus on their hobbies outside of school.

This shift can become especially difficult for musicians, who need a lot of time to dedicate to their craft.



Creating During the Summer 

All of the free time that the summer provides can allow a musician to create music without having to worry about their student life.

“Over the summer, you can push out more work without stressing. Like, I was able to make three projects over the summer,” Justin Outlaw, a fourth-year Georgia State student, said. 

Outlaw has gained a fairly large following on the music streaming platform SoundCloud as Madara TBH, and he admits that he actually isn’t able to make as much music during the school year as he does during summer break. 

“It kind of limits how much music I make to an extent. I’d probably make one or two songs a month,” Outlaw said. 

This is obviously due to the amount of time spent in class and doing other school-related work, which doesn’t leave a lot of time for music creation. 


Black Georgia State male rapper performing
Musty Freckles performs some of his biggest hits during his set of PantherPalooza 2019. Photo by Matt Siciliano-Salazar | The Signal

Jordan “J $ENSEI” Taylor is a junior at Georgia State who produces and mixes all of his music, which both alone takes up a lot of time. 

“Sometimes, you can’t devote your full attention to music when you’ve got exams or have to go to class for hours on end. I feel like that’s really the only disadvantage of being a student and a musician,” Taylor said. 

The free time that summer offers can allow a musician to work without worry, making it a better time to come up with ideas and create. 

“School is a bit difficult to work around, especially when tests come around, but I always ended up cramming the last days before anyway because I was too occupied making music. It’s really about the personal drive to do things more valuable to you. Summertime is always a creative time for me, though,” Ezra “POUND$” Anthony, a graduate from the class of 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in music technology, said. 

Anthony is mainly a producer and is in a couple of Atlanta-based bands, so music makes up a large part of his life. Therefore, being in school wasn’t too advantageous for him as an artist, especially taking classes that didn’t really help him grow as a musician. 

“Taking courses that don’t inspire or have anything to do with your own craft is a great disadvantage. This underwhelmed me a lot each semester. But if you want to graduate, you have to go through it,” Anthony said. 

Transitioning Into the School Year 

Although summer provides more time to be productive when creating music, artists can still maintain productivity during the school year, even though they have less free time. 

Some students describe feeling more productive with their music as they make that transition. The day-to-day experiences of school life can serve as a tool for creating music and coming up with ideas. 

“It’s easier for me to make music during the school year because I’m actually having more experiences. Summer is more introspective, I guess,” Taylor said.

Anthony also used his experiences during the school year to his advantage by using them as inspiration for his music. 

“Yes, school kept me focused. I was also listening to a lot more classical and jazz music during the school year as opposed to the summer. This kind of music inspires me a lot idea-wise, and keeps me driven to work on more material, whether it’s hip-hop, pop, etc.,” Anthony said. 

Meanwhile, Outlaw uses music to deal with school stress and as an overall coping mechanism. 

“School and music really don’t correlate at all. The music is pretty much therapy for me,” Outlaw said. 

School and Music Can Go Hand in Hand 

Sometimes school can become overwhelming and mess up an artist’s workflow. However, it can only be difficult to combine both studies and music if an artist allows it to. Making time for both studies and music is a possibility. 

“I think it has the potential to hinder the frequency you put out music, but only if you let it. It’s all about time management,” Taylor said. “Luckily, I’m naturally a good student and don’t have to really study, so I can spend more time making music. I’ll always find a way to make time for music.” 

Actively trying to mix music interests with life at Georgia State helps an artist manage time with music and school. This allows them to grow as a musician while keeping their studies in check. 

“I was able to score a short film each school year with some insanely talented guys from the film school. This was a great opportunity during the school year because it’s more of a long-term project. I also produced various albums with ATL artists over the course of school. School never seemed to intervene with the music because I was still surrounded by music every day at school.” Anthony said.