Young Artists Program musician interviews

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

This week we sat down and talked with two of our YAP musicians, Dawn Kim and Lydia Rhea.

Dawn, 19, is a violinist studying at The Juilliard School. In her interview, Dawn shares her approach to chamber music.

While playing chamber music, it’s really important not only to listen to yourself while playing, but listen to your chamber group members. And also being open to everyone’s suggestions.

Score studying is very important and also listening to various recordings to get an idea of the piece. Not necessarily to use their ideas but to get a sense of how the piece is supposed to go.

Sightreading music with friends can be a really fun way to learn more rep and just have a good time.

And lastly, the biggest thing about being in a chamber group is trusting each other and going on this amazing journey and trusting that at the end of it all we will all be better musicians.

Lydia, 19, is a cellist studying at the Cleveland Institute of Music. In her interview, Lydia shares her preparation process before a performance. 

My mental preparation for a performance starts a few weeks before the actual performance. I’d say about two or three weeks beforehand, I start doing run-throughs of a piece. I don’t let myself stop because that’s when I take mental notes of any pitfalls I might have, of any memory slips that might be happening. I find that when you are doing mock run-throughs of your pieces for an audience, it puts you in a much different mental state than you would be in when you’re doing it in your own practice room.

After you’ve mentally prepared yourself for everything– if I have never been in the space before that I’m going to be performing, I often Google Image [search] the stage and the hall so I can mentally set myself up for knowing what the stage is going to look like. I practice walking into a room. You have to practice sitting outside a room for ten minutes beforehand and walking in because I think that waiting period is something we don’t practice a lot, but it’s something that happens at every single performance that you will ever do. You don’t get to play a shift thirty times and then go on stage and do it. You have to sit there and make sure it’s an internalized within yourself beforehand.

The day of a performance, I am super picky about everything that I have in my bag. I have my rosin, I have my rock stop, a stand if I need it, my iPad, back up music­– everything like that. I triple check everything. On the way to the performance, I’m totally one of those people that plays through the piece in my head, doing any spots that I might have run-throughs with. That, for me, creates a road map in my head and it makes me feel much more secure once I get on stage.

When I’m back stage, I definitely take deep breaths, especially if it’s a solo performance and I’m not in a chamber group or a chamber setting. I tend to stay to myself. Be polite to everyone around you, but stay in your own mental space so you aren’t exuding too much energy, and you can just stay really internalized with what you are going to say and how you’re going to present yourself onstage.

Right before I go onstage, I always tell myself, “No matter what happens– no matter if the lights go out or you forget everything or a disaster happens– nobody’s going to die. We’re just making music and we’re all here to share that music with other people.” If I can just remind myself that I do it because I love performing and I love telling a story to people, and I’m there to move an audience and I’m not there to perform for myself– that kind of removes this element of ego from the performance and it helps me have a lot more perspective in what I’m doing and what I’m trying to say. All those hours of practice leading up to it are really just so that you can give the best voice possible to what you are expressing to the audience as you possibly can and not to be like, “Oh, look at how cool I am and what I can do!” I think removing yourself from that aspect is something that I do for myself backstage and just really think about the music and the story that it’s trying to tell and hope that it moves the audience.

Watch Dawn and Lydia apply these tips at our final Young Artists Program concerts on June 27 and June 28, 2019! Both performances take place at 8pm in The Big Barn.