Classical Musician Interview #4: Sarah Worden
1) How long have you played?
2) How did you start playing your instrument?
I heard the elementary school orchestra play during a concert and I decided I wanted to play violin. My parents embraced the idea and found private lessons for me right away. I was fortunate to have a great teacher who motivated me to keep practicing!
3) What motivates you to wake up in the morning and start playing your instrument?
I love the music I play - its fun but also very challenging, so I know in order to get it performance ready, I need to practice! Also, each piece is a learning experience - I view each one as a way to grow both musically and technically, so I can better share my music with other people and to give them an experience they (hopefully) won't forget. Finally, I have made so many great memories playing violin, and met so many great people. For example, my previous violin teacher lived in Moscow, Russia. I started taking private lessons with his brother, who lives in Glendale, and once I reached a certain level, he introduced me to him. We had lessons over Skype for 6 years. This is the great thing about classical music - its a worldwide connecting factor with other people, and I want to keep making those connections, as well as keep having wonderful musical experiences. The path toward doing so is practicing.
4) Describe your fondest musical memory.
My fondest musical memory is when I performed in a convalescent home with one of my friends. After the performance, one of the patient's daughter came up to us and told us about her mother, who used to be a concert pianist. She said that her mother started smiling and moved her hands like she was playing the piano during our performance. This was the first time that I realized that the music I played could have a positive effect on others - this was cemented my decision to major in music in college.
5) What was your worst mistake and how did you overcome it?
I had a big problem with memory slips when performing when I was younger due to performance nerves. The only way to overcome this was to keep going out there and performing.
6) How do you balance music with other obligations?
It 's all about time management, especially because I am double majoring in physics as well. Although I am a double major, I am not given any slack on the music side - the expectations are the same as if I were only majoring in music. I've learned that procrastination is the enemy - I can't only focus on one major's work for a couple of days, I have to keep a constant balance of studying and practice.
7) Were you always going to be a musician? If not, what were you going to be?
I didn't consider being a musician until junior year of high school. Until then, having come from a long line of scientists (and a nonmusical family), and loving my math and physics classes, I was determined to become a scientist as well and work on mitigating the effects of global warming. Now, with dual interests, I am double majoring in physics and music at UCLA. I hope to eventually earn a bachelor's degree in both and then decide for grad school which path I will go down - as a musician, or as a scientist.
8) What or who triggered your pasion to become a classical musician?
My mother definitely kept me on a track when I first started playing - she always encouraged me to practice even when I didn't feel like it. Without her, I probably would have stopped playing after a couple of years, so I am eternally grateful for her encouragement. However, playing music itself has also triggered my passion to become a classical musician - I have definitely been on a musical "high," for example, during high school, the orchestra performed the Russian and Ludmilla Overture. Even during the performance, I couldn't stop smiling because I was having so much fun and everyone was involved in the music - the sense of camaraderie was astounding.
9) In what way do you think classical music has influenced you?
Classical music has influenced me in so many different ways. First, it has helped me develop a strong work ethic - I've had days where I play for 8 hours straight as I go between individual practice, lessons, chamber rehearsals, and orchestra rehearsals. I have to stay extremely focused constantly, too; There's a big difference between just playing around and actually practicing, where I concentrate on intonation, right-hand technique musicality, and figuring out how I can best express myself through the music - this requires careful thought about every note that I play. The through the music - this requires careful thought and every note that I play. The work ethic and focus that I have developed from playing classical music has definitely helped me in my academic studies - I now apply the same technique to my studies of physics and math, where instead of just doing route problems, I make sure that I understand the basic concepts and figure out the correct processes of solving each problem. In the end, I come out with more in-dept understanding of each topic at hand. Furthermore, I have realized the importance of collaboration from playing classical music.The key idea of playing in orchestra or chamber ensembles is that you are part of a group - you all working with others to share music with others. Even playing as a soloist with an orchestra, you are still working with the orchestra to present the full story that the composer wishes to tell. I now realize that this type of collaboration is a necessity in the rest of life as well. For example, as modern composers continue to develop classical music in new directions, collaborating with them to make sure you are playing the music correctly is a necessity. On the academic side, where I would once have rather studied alone, I now look to form study groups, because I know that multiple people working on the same problem will produce a result a lot faster than just one.
10) Have you ever considered stop playing and start something different?
No- I would miss classical music too much!
11) What is your musical guilty pleasure?
I like sight-reading pieces that I am not working on currently - sometime I'll take out a Bach Sonata and read through it for fun, or go print out music on IMSLP that I've been listening to and have a god at it. Or, I'll look through old concertos and run through those- it's always interesting to see how my interpretation changes as I grow as a musician.