Julian Garcia is from the Philippines and is currently studying music education with an emphasis on percussion at St. Scholastica’s College, Manila. She has participated in virtual competitions including the Asia Pacific Percussion Society Online Competition, Bacoor International Music Championships 2021, and Xtended Drum and Lyre Corps Online Battle. She also participated in the NYU Steinhardt’s Virtual Broadway Percussion Seminar in 2020.
R!S: How do you find new pieces that you are interested in playing? What factors do you consider when seeking out and/or choosing new solo or chamber repertoire?
Julian Garcia: When I find new pieces that I am interested to play, I always get this feeling of excitement and that I just can’t wait to learn them. When I am choosing a piece, the main factor I consider is the difficulty level — whether it is within my level, but also has a challenge to it. I try not to get too excited in looking for a piece of music because if I do, I may end up choosing something too difficult.
R!S: What do you find changes about the way you play a piece as you “live” with it for a while? Do you typically perform a piece once or multiple times?
JG: When I am learning a piece that would maybe take me months to learn, at the beginning, I would feel so excited to learn something new. However, as time goes on, I do find myself struggling to understand the piece. It’s like having a relationship with it. Sometimes, it makes me feel so frustrated, but I love it so I try to stick with it. At the end, when I’ve mastered a piece, I just can’t let it go, sometimes performing it multiple times in virtual recitals or competitions.
R!S: How involved and in what ways is your instructor involved in your repertoire selection?
JG: As I am still a student, and my knowledge in percussion pieces is still lacking, my instructor is very involved and provides me some pieces for my repertoire. But of course, I don’t just sit there and wait for the next piece; my instructor also gives me assignments to look up pieces for certain instruments by myself.
R!S: Do you finish every piece that you start to learn? If not, why not? If a piece seems like a poor fit or you struggle unusually with a piece, how do you proceed? Do you “bail” on the selection or what changes do you make to allow yourself to complete it?
JG: I try to finish every piece, but there are inevitably times when I feel like it doesn’t feel right. When that happens, I take a step back, focus on the sheet music, and listen to how it is really played. By doing that, I give myself time to relax a bit and at the same time, understand the music that I am learning.
R!S: What is one particularly favorite piece of repertoire you’ve performed and why?
JG: My favorite piece would probably be “Smooth Criminal” by Michael Jackson. It was arranged by my high school music teacher for a percussion ensemble in 2015 or 2016. It’s my favorite because it was the one that presented me with a real challenge at that time. It was faster and a bit different than the usual pieces we did; it made me feel so exhilarated.