Congratulations to Alex I., of Astoria, Queens! We’ve honored him as Student of the Month for March 2018. We chose him for this honor because he has been doing great work in his clarinet lessons, and is taking on some ambitious auditions very soon. He even practices twice a day and has mini performances at home to prepare!
As a result, he is well prepared for his upcoming auditions at Frank Sinatra High School’s Summer Arts Institute and the Juilliard Pre-College Program! Watch the interview with Alex to see what a great guy he is, and how you can practice like him, too. Or you can read the transcript below.
Jason: Hey Alex, how are you today?
Jason: Welcome. I’m glad you came here for this interview today and to have you here. The point of this interview is that we’re giving you the student of the month at Sage Music School for March 2018, right?
Jason: Are you proud of that fact?
Alex: Yes I am.
Jason: Oh well, good, you should be. I know you have been studying hard for for many years and I’m very excited that we get to give you this because I hear you have some interesting auditions coming up. Would t you like to tell me about those?
Alex: I’m going to be doing this at Frank Sinatra and then the Juilliard audition for Pre-College.
Jason: Awesome. Are you excited about both those?
Jason: Which ones are more exciting to you?
Alex: What’s more exciting to me is the Summer Arts Institute because my sister went there and I see this as like a really good experience and she says she loves it. She makes finding friends.
Jason: Yeah. Awesome. That sounds like a good deal. Yeah. And you’ll be, you’ve decided on what music are you playing at the auditions? Correct?
Jason: What are you playing first?
Alex: I’m going to be playing Fantasie Stucke by Niels Gade.
Jason: And how long have you been working on this piece?
Alex: For like about a year now. About a year now.
Jason: And it takes a long time to learn something like that doesn’t it?
Alex: Yeah. Yeah.
Jason: Can you tell me a little bit about your practice? I’d love to know about what you’re doing to actually really get ready for that.
Alex: Usually for when I practice, I practice for like 30 minutes to an hour every day. It’s usually right before dinner or after dinner. I usually do both, like I’ll do it with our practice before then. Yeah. And then after dinner practice even more.
Jason: Ah, well that’s excellent. Actually, I don’t know if you know this, but it’s not how long you practice that is important, it’s how often do you practice. So if you’re doing twice a day instead of once a day, you’re going to see a lot of great results, which I know you are. I know I heard you at the recitals and you were sounding pretty good.
Jason: And a can you tell me a little bit about what you’re doing, like in your practice, how does it start and how does it end?
Alex: Usually I start off by doing some warm ups, like planning notes up and down, doing some skills and then when I’m done with that and I feel comfortable, I usually play pieces that I’m given to us from, from my teacher to practice or I get from my band to practice for my orchestra.
Jason: And when you, when you’re practicing, after the skills, do you do one piece and then move on to the next piece or do you do each piece multiple times?
Alex: I usually stick to one piece a day so I don’t get distracted by anything. So trying to focus on one piece.
Jason: Well, you know, I’m uh, I agree you shouldn’t be distracted, right? So you want to also always be in a room where there’s not a lot of distractions, there’s no extra noises, there’s no brothers and sisters running around, you know, so you can concentrate. But one of the cool things about, working on improving your practice is you can get more results from the same time that you’re already putting in. One of the things I want to help you with here today is that if you’re doing one piece a day, what happens is when you start practicing, your brain grows about that piece and you get better on that piece.
Jason: But if you’re only doing one piece of day, you’re maybe not getting as much growing of your brain as you could. Instead of doing one practice session on one piece, if you did three pieces in that time, just did them each for shorter periods of time, I think you’ll see better results.
Jason: Would you like to give that a try? See how that goes?
Jason: OK. So I’m not going to recommend you make changes before your audition, right? As your audition is tomorrow, is that right?
Alex: Yeah. First is Frank Sinatra.
Jason: When’s your audition for Juilliard?
Alex: Juilliard is somewhere in May.
Jason: Around May? OK. So as you’re getting getting ready for May let me give you just one other piece of advice to help you. So are you actually practicing performing at all, or are you just practicing the same each day? Like the same way?
Alex: I’m practicing it usually like how I present myself, like because I would stand up before, before to play because usually it’s better looking when you stand up.
Jason: I agree. I agree. I think you are smart to think about your appearance. That’s very good because you know, there’s always the way you play, but there’s always the way that people think you played. Sometimes your appearances will influence that. Working on your appearance, I think that’s great. But what about just practicing for performing? Do you actually, think about doing one practice session just like a performance would be.
Alex: That’s what I usually do, like a recital, I bring my whole family down and then I let them watch me so I don’t get nervous for the actual recital. So I usually do that.
Jason: Yeah, I think that’s very smart. So I would continue to do that and I think you can actually do that without your family. I think maybe at the end of your practice session, what you can do is go to like a different room and all by yourself, just pretend like it’s the recital and give yourself one chance to play it.
Jason: And then after you feel comfortable with that then maybe it’s time to invite the family and I think that’s a great idea that you’ve got and then you can add more people if you maybe do it. The recitals here at the school would be good. And then eventually Julliard!
Jason: Good. So outside of music, what kind of things keep you entertained and what, what makes you happy?
Alex: Well I mostly play sports like basketball. That’s my favorite sport ever.
Jason: Do like a playing or watching more?
Alex: Both. I love both. Yeah.
Jason: And tell me about your playing. What position do you play?
Alex: Point guard.
Jason: Yeah. And how long have you been doing that now?
Alex: Since like fourth grade, now I’m in in 10th grade. So you know, six years.
Jason: That’s cool. And you have a favorite team?
Alex: The Knicks of course! Because you know I’m from New York.
Jason: Yeah. And is there something about the team that you like other than they’re from New York like you are?
Alex: Porzingas. I just love his playing. He’s my favorite player. Yeah.
Jason: What do you like about his playing?
Alex: The fact how he’s like seven feet tall. He could do everything, he can shoot, he can drive in, he can do anything.
Jason: And why do you think he can do anything?
Alex: Because he just score people so easily.
Jason: Yeah. I’m trying to get like a more fundamental question. Why do you think he can score on people so easily?
Alex: Because of this size and strength.
Jason: I doubt it. There’s a lot, well there’s not like a lot of guys who are that tall, right? How often do you think he practices?
Alex: A lot. Probably for hours.
Jason: You’re right. You’re right.
Alex: Probably like all the NBA players.
Jason: And that’s exactly the answer. So I wouldn’t be impressed with his size. I’d be impressed with the work he puts in. And if you understand that it’s the work that he puts in that makes them great, you can achieve just exactly the same results on clarinet or in basketball. And I believe that. I believe that about you.
Jason: So anything that you’d like to know or anything you’d like to ask?
Jason: I always want to give people the opportunity to speak for themselves, you know. So it’s really great to give you this honor and we’re really happy to do it. And I’m happy I got to talk with you today and I love that you’re full of smiles. So congratulations!
Alex: Thank you.
Jason: You’re most welcome.