5 Ways to Maintain Musical Training Momentum
There are all kinds of blogs directed at music teachers and parents about how to sustain student progress over the summer. Most of them direct the reader to a summer program like PIMF!
You only have to glance at our testimonials and press coverage to see how the PIMF summer experience immediately impacts a young musician’s approach to their craft. They leave with a lot to unpack – much more than laundry!
The question then becomes: throughout the months between summer festivals, how to maintain that motivation and energy from all the new insights? And what are we talking about, exactly?
#1 Way to maintain musical training momentum: Keep checking out new perspectives beyond your regular education circle
“The main thing for me – especially being a part of the Solo Performance Preparation Program – would be the amount of different perspectives on teaching that you get while you’re here,” July PIMF Concerto Competition winner Nickolas Warwick (violin) told us after winning the Grand Prize. “With most of the camps I’ve been to, you sort of go into your studio and you have your one teacher who you see every day or every other day and that’s the one person you get the most musical knowledge from and you learn a lot! But I think the thing that PIMF really has is the opportunity to learn from multiple, different teachers. I’ve had a different teacher every day since being here. I think being able to get all those perspectives, being able to learn about so many ways to approach music, how they approach the professional world as teachers and musicians – it’s been REALLY interesting. So, I think that’s what sets the Philadelphia International Music Festival apart from the rest.”
#2 Way to maintain musical training momentum: Keep auditioning new ideas and pay attention to what works for you
Faculty member Nate West, Bass in The Philadelphia Orchestra, attended summer music festivals as a young musician and finds the jam-packed PIMF program can work as a buffet of new insights to test.
“Any summer festival is a fairly unique learning experience,” he explains. “It’s very different from having steady lessons with the same person every week during the school year, for example. Because the time is limited, I think it’s a chance for students to get exposed to a lot of new ideas – maybe a lot of different ideas – and try to soak up as much information, as much new stuff as they can. Not all of it might apply to what they do, but it’s still stuff they learn: learning what they like, what they don’t like, what works for them, what doesn’t work for them.”
#3 Way to maintain musical training momentum: Go to live musical performances by stars of your instrument to listen, to love it, and to learn from it.
Exposure to new ideas can come throughout the year at in-person programs, like the Music in the Mansion winter break intensive offered by PIMF this year. Online Master Classes as a participant or viewer are a wealth of insights. But as PIMF Piano Faculty member and accompanist Dr. Mark Livshits explains, getting out to live performances is vitally important for keeping a student’s eyes on the prize.
“We’re trying, not just to tell the kids, but to SHOW them,” he says. “When you have faculty recitals with folks from The Philadelphia Orchestra, they get to see not just the process – which is what we do every day with them for hours and hours and hours – but they get to see the result. Conversely sometimes they only see the result – you go to a concert and everyone sounds great – so we’re here to show them how to get to that result.”
#4 Way to maintain musical training momentum: Channel that PIMF practice energy! Treat your practice time and space like you did at PIMF. Schedule it, permit no distractions, and keep yourself as focused and accountable as you did when you were in a two-week intensive.
If there’s one constant for a musician of any age, it’s the need to practice, and while quantity matters a great deal, so does the quality of that time.
“I’ve learned so much about practice, and HOW to practice,” said Tristan Price (cello.) “If I were to watch myself through this process, it would probably also be related to practice. I came last year and grew so much in my practice and this year I just keep growing through practice and learning that no matter how much I improve one year, I can come back and still improve so much more in the next year.”
“How to practice was like, the biggest thing,” Grace Lipinski agreed. “How to be so disciplined, the different ways to go about it, and really being in focus. I think that’s something for every musician to learn about. It makes me a better player because I can sit in a practice room and be so specific.”
“At PIMF, you have so much dedicated time to practice because it’s worked into your schedule, no distractions,” Amaya Tucker told us. “So, I saw technique improvements quickly just because I had more time. “
#5 Way to maintain musical training momentum: Respect the process. Approach your work with focus, diligence, and patience.
There are countless memes across the internet about young musicians wanting to skip the early work phases and jump straight to virtuoso. Even young musicians recognize them as self-effacing humor. But Dr. Livshits finds that it’s especially important for music students to pause to take a deep breath literally and figuratively.
“I think the process, it’s being diligent and learning how to work because not everyone is going to leave PIMF and go on to a career in music,” he stresses. “But it’s understanding that anything you want to be successful in is process-driven. And it takes time to figure out what works for you, and patience. We’re dealing mostly with teenagers and pre-teens, so naturally, the tendency is to want to do everything as fast as possible. And when you’re an adult you learn, the older you get the more time things take. So, we’re trying to teach patience and doing things correctly the first time so that you don’t need to go back and re-do it. And loving what you do, devoting yourself to it, immersing yourself completely in it. Because in music, you really can’t go halfway. You’ll only get halfway results. And because it’s something that people hear, you don’t want to step onstage with a halfway done product. So, you have to really buy in and dive deep on what you’re doing when you’re a musician.”
PIMF offers opportunities for young musicians to check in with its faculty throughout the year, for a fresh perspective and a jolt of inspiration. Watch this space for news about online Concerto Competitions and check out the Music in The Mansion portal now! Openings for this winter solo/practice intensive designed for advanced cello and violin students at a luxurious Miami, Florida mansion are filling up. As of this writing, for example, there are only ten openings in this intense winter program.