Article by Ishani Sharma

Irene L. is an outstanding sophomore pianist. Her musical journey started when she was six years old and stemmed from a competitive nature. When her older sister began playing the piano, Irene wanted to be better than her. From then on, Irene has competed in a myriad of competitions, attended music festivals, and currently plays for ISM’s Jazz Band.

She describes performing and practicing as very different skills that are equally essential to mastering the piano. “Practice has a very rigid structure to me. First, it’s the warm up. Then you practice the pieces in your repertoire over and over. In performing, you have to be more spontaneous because if something goes wrong, you can’t start over.”

This summer Irene visited a music festival in Colburn School of Music, Los Angeles, and described it as an amazing experience. “I met so many amazing people there who were majoring or double majoring in piano. It was great to talk to all the professors and students. It inspired me to work even harder because double majoring in piano and an academic subject is something I want to do too. It’s hard though, because it’s a double process and a bit overwhelming to think about.”

As both a student and musician, Irene knows firsthand how challenging balancing school work and music practice can be. “Organization is super important. I personally like to make a general list of things I want to accomplish, nothing super specific with time frames, but a list of goals helps keep me on track.”

Some advice that she has for aspiring musicians who want to improve in their respective fields includes only doing it if you really enjoy it. “In the States, I met some people who were majoring in piano but they hated it. So I guess pursue whatever you want, but it’s hard work, so do it if you really love it.”

When asked about why she loves playing piano so much, she replied without hesitation, “The music. I wouldn’t be playing piano if I didn’t love the music. I’ve thought about lessening the rigour and time I devote to piano, but something always manages to pull me back into it.” Irene’s passion and dedication to her craft are truly admirable.

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