Happy Lunar New Year! I got Eye of the Tiger playing in the background as I’m typing this, and what better timing than the week of the opening ceremony for the Winter Olympic Games? On top of that, my first recital since 2019 is just days away, so I’m excited and nervous at the same time!
I don’t know about you, but for me, January always feels like the longest month of the year, even though there are 6 other months with the same number of days. This one was no exception, and not sure if it has to do with it being the coldest month in the northern hemisphere, post-holiday exhaustion, Vitamin D deficiency, or the fact that Omicron made its way into my house on New Year’s Day (glad that’s over).
The virus set me back in preparation for this recital; upon recovering, it suddenly hit me that there was very little time left to prepare. Two weeks ago, walking down the hallway of the music school where I teach (where the performance will be held), I came across this poster, which was staring right back at me:
Aaaaahh!! How’s that for a slap in the face to get to work? Thankfully, I was already familiar with the repertoire and had most bowings and fingerings set. But now the mission was to bring all the elements together in a cohesive, musical, and efficient way. Where would I find a method on how to prepare a complex piece of music for performance, and fast?
Nathan Cole’s Violympic Games to the rescue!! Luckily, I took this online course over the past 2 summers, in which the participants learned 6 new works of music over the course of 5 days a-piece, using a very specific approach to each piece. Having lifetime access, I began flipping through the assignments for ideas. After all, I somehow managed to memorize some of those pieces during the course in such a short time!
What did most of the Violympic assignments have in common? The idea of tackling one technique at a time and applying it across an entire piece (wherever that technique appeared in all of the music). In addition, the assignments rarely called for more than 3 different techniques to focus on in a single day. This is the opposite of what so many people do intuitively, which is learn one page of music at a time, cramming in all the different technical work present on that page at the same time (which leads to overwhelm and burnout).
The one technique at a time method proved time and time again to be very effective, less stressful, and one that helps get my mindset in a healthy place during the process.