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Saturday, April 1, 2023

Hilary Hahn Practices in Public, Wherever and However She Is

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Many of Hahn’s admirers have taken that lesson about mindfulness to heart. Another violinist, Elena Urioste, tried the project two years ago, and “promptly failed on my third day,” she wrote on Instagram. She responded with her own hashtag, #ErraticDaysofPractice.

The rising violinist and hashtag devotee Nancy Zhou said that Hahn “positively reinforces the whole practice culture and what it should be,” and that she was “completely confident” that the star has had an influence.

“It makes them start thinking,” Zhou said of colleagues she had talked with, “about, well, how can they more deeply and more forgivingly look at the way they practice?”

Hahn said that series has been useful to her own routine, though it took her time “to be at one with the public and the private aspects of it.” And there have been periods when filming — or writing analytically about it — has interfered with practice itself. The series eventually dispelled a “cycle of commentary” that fixated on how she played “perfectly,” she said, denying that that was her intention.

But even if Hahn sees her posts as modeling just one possible approach — practice isn’t perfect — and certainly not as lessons in how to practice or play the violin, she has come to accept what she calls their “greater purpose.” She has no plans to stop them just yet.

“As a student, I never saw someone practice,” Hahn said. “I would sort of illegally listen to the wall, or even if I would poke my head into the window to see who was there, then you would duck down. You know, you tried to listen a little bit.”

“We had no idea how people achieved what they achieved,” she continued, “and the fact that people have embraced the project, started doing it themselves, they’re getting comfortable posting stuff that isn’t polished — it feels like maybe the idea was mine, but the game changer is the pickup of this community.”

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