Hilary Hahn on technique, practise mentality, and performance

Violinist Hilary Hahn on practice and technique:

I’ve always worked hard at my technique … But I’ve worked hard at my musicality as well. When I was doing my etudes my teachers always made sure I didn’t go onto the next until I had the first really good. But it wasn’t good unless it was musical. It didn’t come easy. Still doesn’t …

I don’t do etudes every day, no. But whenever I feel that something is starting to slide, I focus hard on that … There’s always something to slide … It’s like having a house. You have to keep an eye on everything all the time. If you notice a drip, you get it fixed straight away before it gets worse. It’s the same with technique. I can hear instantly what needs maintenance, and address it before it becomes a big problem…

… I love what I do … But the real truth is that I don’t want to go on stage unprepared. I don’t like that panicked feeling of just hoping it goes OK. It’s not fun. In fact it’s nerve racking. So I’ve learnt over time to be methodical about some things and not to panic about a lot of things.

Richard Morrison, “Peak Practice”, BBC Music Magazine, October 2010, p.29.