Happy(?) New Year – January Blog

Digital Ambassador Piá Bromby chronicles life as an RNCM violinist in a series of monthly blog posts.

When I was sat at home writing the blog for last month, I didn’t imagine I’d be doing the same for the current January Blog. I was all packed and ready to head back to Manchester on the 2nd but swiftly did a u-turn on my plans due to Lockdown 3. In hindsight, returning to Manchester in less than a month did seem too good to be true during the current circumstances!

I often find myself starting these blogs with an update on the current situation, mainly because it’s relatable but also impossible to ignore. Likewise, kicking off 2021 with wishes of ‘Happy New Year’ may have felt rather bittersweet to many this past New Years Eve, yet with perspective, I believe 2021 can be ‘Happy’ if you’re willing to make it so and celebrate the small victories.

Similarly to the past few months, January has challenged us in new and wonderful ways. All students from the RNCM School of Strings (SS) participated in blind orchestral auditions which always take place in January. However due to Covid-19, in person auditions couldn’t take place so the RNCM held the auditions online in a ‘live setting’ over Zoom.

I had prepared the best I could and really enjoyed all the excerpts I had to play, yet naturally, I was still nervous and particularly so about the first half of the first excerpt I had to play. I entered the audition ‘room’ with my camera off (so the panel couldn’t identify me) with my username changed to my candidate number – all seemed well. When it came down to playing that first excerpt, I was so pleased with how it went and felt pretty relieved that it was out the way – YES! It wasn’t until I looked down at my iPad screen did I notice something was wrong – the panel had requested to unmute me? I had just played everything on mute so had to start again! I began from the top and of course the second time I played was no way near how the first time sounded (typical!) but I powered on and finished the audition in high spirits due to silently laughing at myself the whole way through because of my stupidity! Although a very different experience this time, definitely a positive one in the end with some ace feedback and comments! (It can’t just be me and my failing technology skills who had an audition like this, surely not? Please let me know about your own Zoom experience!)

Likewise due to our familiar friend, Covid, orchestral rehearsals have been sadly postponed for the foreseeable future. Despite this, many workshops have been taking place to replace the missed practical element of orchestra with other enriching and beneficial sessions. Some of my highlights include a class with RNCM International Tutor in Strings, Performance and Pedagogy, Henk Guittart and a session with violist, Cheryl Law. I found these two separate sessions to be very adaptable on a personal level through the likes of goal setting, mindful practice (with and away from the instrument) and overall approach to playing during these times. It was also super nice to have a chat and meet two new people from first year SS in a breakout room during Cheryl’s session; breakout rooms can be awkward at the best of times yet this particular session created such an open and relatable space that the awkwardness seemed to fade away. I’ve been implementing aspects learnt from the sessions and I’ve found I’m more aware in my practice and daily life, which gives some much needed control and outlook during this lockdown!

Aside from my orchestral audition and the RNCM classes mentioned, I’ve been preparing for my technical assessment, been out on walks with family and finally finished (and started another!) 30 Day ‘Yoga with Adriene’ challenge – I’d highly recommend if you’re after some stress-free, zen vibes! I’ve also been channeling my inner 13 year old self and started rewatching ‘Pretty Little Liars’ on BBC iPlayer, which brought some nostalgic goodness into the month. In the end, January has been pretty eventful and for me, truly was that ‘Happy’ start to 2021 that I was looking for, albeit manifesting in different ways than I first expected.

See you in the next blog and stay safe!

Piá :)

4 February 2021