Julien Beurms is completely devoted to music– there’s no other way to put this.
And I’m super excited to have Julien here today!
He started piano at age 7 and has three masters degrees in music; now he’s attending grad school on full scholarship (New England Conservatory of Music).
Julien has performed in his hometown Belgium, France, and in the States; he’s a decorated man, and he deserves it.
What brings him all this success? Julien shares his tips below.
“This is something which makes performance and passion extremely exciting and beautiful.”
Julien’s Distinguishing Quality
A musician’s seriousness about music is one of his most important qualities.
It might seem obvious, but it is extremely dangerous for a musician to rely on pure instinct for performance.
Instinct is a very important part in performance– it enhances the natural character of music and gives a certain freshness to the performance– however, it is crucial that musicians fully understand the musical text to follow the composer’s ideals.
A musician’s role goes along with enormous responsibility; not only does he have to pay attention to every detail, but he also has to understand why he is doing it.
“Practice for a musician not only includes pure physical training… but also research, reasoning and rumination.”
He has to be open-minded to musical and general history, to music theory as well as to philosophy and other arts in general, anything that may be related to the composer’s vision.
Practice for a musician not only includes pure physical training (suppleness, sound control, virtuosity…) but also research, reasoning and rumination.
This is what makes up my daily worklife.
Julien’s Practice Schedule and a Pianist’s Most Important Skill
“Practicing in your head means remembering every motion, every emotion, every detail of the score, every voice…”
There are two ways to become a better musician.
The first is the practicing directly on the instrument and the second is reading books and listening to music to truly understand the composer and the piece we play.
The second part might vary from day to day. In my case, I try to read every day.
In order to keep a certain “consistency” in his playing and his performances, it is essential for a musician to have a structured lifestyle. In my case, I usually practice 6 hours a day.
Of course, sometimes you won’t be able to practice so you have to find other ways to keep the music fresh in your head.
For instance, when you are travelling, you have to practice mentally, which is sometimes as effective as physical practice.
Practicing in your head means remembering every motion, every emotion, every detail of the score, every voice and so on…
On Performance Mistakes and Anxiety
“A musician shouldn’t be afraid of… uncertainty… [because] the message given to the audience… [is more important] than the perfect technical execution of a piece.”
Nervousness comes from the fact that even if musicians prepare their performances very well and very conscientiously (like sportspeople), it never comes out exactly like they imagine.
This is something which makes performance and passion extremely exciting and beautiful.
A boxer can study an opponent for weeks in advance, learn each of his moves, prepare his fight mentally, yet it is always different from the performance itself.
It’s the same for a musician.
A musician shouldn’t be afraid of this uncertainty since the most important thing is the message given to the audience rather than the perfect technical execution of a piece.
“In some cases, performances full of wrong notes have moved me more than very accurate performances without any transcendence.”
Of course, it is disturbing when the music isn’t what he expects, especially when it happens in a bad way, but the most important thing is to focus on the present moment and fully concentrate on the music being produced.
Then, he doesn’t have time to think about what went wrong a few moments ago and about what might not work in the next passages. This ability requires years of training for most of us but it’s exciting.
Editor’s Note: Julien omits the girls in this article because him/her or he/she is just clunky, but he’s referring to the guys and girls throughout.