BEIJING -- Okay, this is official: two 2010 Menuhin 1st Prize Winners usually only practice one hour a day and two or three hours a day before a competition.
Last evening, Kerson Leong and Angelo (Xiang) Yu both had fantastic recital performance at Middle School of Conservatory of Music. There was a question-answer period at the end of their performance. The first question they got was about practice: How could one practice so little yet get the 1st prize? The answers came from Kerson and Angelo were pretty much same:
1. Think nine times then play once but not the other way around;
2. Mental practice: visualizing the music, how it should sound and how it can be best executed (bowing, fingering and shifting, etc.);
3. Slow practice the difficult fast passages; and
4. Keep a healthy life style with a lot of sports and exercise.
During this question-answer period, the parents of the winners were also on the stage to tell their stories. Kerson’s father (a physicist) talked about how he worked with Kerson on tone production and movements. Angelo (Xiang) Yu talked about the incredible strength he discovered inside himself when mourning his late mother. Engaging parents in this way gives the audience a quite different perspective about the competition that we usually don’t get by watching the competition at distance.
I think Menuhin Competition has done a pretty good job to show that that it’s a family event and the sacrifice and accomplishment of the parents are much appreciated. Having watched how the competitors interact with each other, discussed with some of the parents and an executive member of the Menuhin Competition, it becomes obvious that the competitors, while being extremely serious about their performance, generally treat the competition as a big party with family, making music and friends and having a grand time. Unlike sports, winning or losing seems to be of secondary importance to them. It’s kind of funny to think about how some of us (myself especially) watching the competition can get so worked up about who wins or loses over the competition.
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