Future-Focused | Student Blog

Wednesday, Feb 19, 2020
Mei Stone
Admissions Blog
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A cellphone taking a photo of a sunset

Now that audition season is in full swing, time seems to be flying by even more quickly.

I recently had my graduation recital, and I’ve spent quite a bit of time since reflecting on the progress I’ve made in my past four years here. Though my musical journey has certainly had its ups and downs, I’ve learned so much, and it’s interesting to compare the goals I had at the beginning of my journey versus the ones I have now. When I first started studying here, I was still getting used to performing—a lot of my goals centered around managing performance nerves, learning as much repertoire as possible, and adjusting to life in New York. Now that I’m finishing my degree, I’m setting goals that extend beyond graduation. A lot of my goals have been product-based—learn this piece by a certain deadline, feel prepared for this audition—but now I want to set more journey-focused goals.

Since I usually have at least one performance a week, a lot of my time in the practice room is spent preparing music in time for the performance, and as a result, I often feel rushed. When I was in middle school, I would sometimes take months to learn a piece; of course, it doesn’t take me nearly as long now, but I do miss the feeling of getting to know a piece inside and out after spending so much time with it. I want to start approaching music with a more relaxed pace to form my own natural connection with it. I never want music to be a meaningless chore, so it’s important to me to grow with the pieces I learn.

Sheet music on a table
Mountains of repertoire every week

I also want to dedicate more time to playing with others. So much of what we do is done by ourselves, in a practice space where hopefully nobody can hear us, but I certainly learn the most by playing with other artists. Hearing my peers inspires me to match their artistry and put more care into my playing, and it offers so many opportunities for collaboration, communication, and sometimes goofing off—which is important sometimes!

Mei poses with friends
Some of my best friends since high school, from a performance last year

And my last big goal is to perform for others more. Especially once I graduate, I won’t have school-organized performances to do, and whether I continue with more school or join an orchestra, I still want to get more comfortable with performing in front of various audiences. What we do is quite uncommon—though we may not realize it at a conservatory!—and the public is always eager to see and hear performing artists. Seeing what my music can do for listeners—especially those who rarely get to hear music live—has inspired me to simply get out there more and play. I’m often nervous and insecure to play in front of others, especially in more intimate chamber settings, but I find that those performances have the most meaning for both me and the audience. We are so lucky to do what we do, and I think it’s both a privilege to make a career out of it and a duty to share that with others.

Mei practicing by a window
Sometimes even practicing with the windows open counts as a performance—but only if the neighbors want to listen

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