Audition Leaves Teen Fiddler Dazed and Confused

Violinist Zenas Hsu

Zenas Hsu says it is important not to overdo it when it comes to practicing. From the Top hide caption

itoggle caption From the Top

Sixteen-year-old violinist Zenas Hsu, from San Jose, Calif., has been accepted one year early to study at the Curtis Institute of Music, in Philadelphia.

But Hsu says his audition for Curtis wasn't easy. In fact it was more like a nightmare.

"You go in there," he describes, "and at first you're pretty happy to have the opportunity to do something that might change your life, but before long it starts to feel like a death chamber. People stare at you in the waiting room, like they're waiting for their turns on death row! I can't even tell you what I felt like when I played, but when I left the audition room I felt dazed, like I'd been in a car crash."

Despite the experience, Hsu's nightmare turned out to be more like a good dream come true when learned he was accepted into the prestigious school. He'll be studying with renowned violinist Ida Kavafian.

One important lesson Hsu learned while he was preparing for his audition for Curtis was not to over-practice. Because he had been working so hard on his audition pieces, he decided to go against the advice of people who told him he should take breaks, and the result was painful.

"One day, right before I was to play in a concert, my arm started to hurt so badly that every time I raised it, I felt piercing pain," he recalls. "I learned that you have to be able to realize when you've practiced enough. You need to be able to let it go."

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