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Simon Diricq, Belgian Classical Saxophonist, Educator

When I was a student at the Paris Conservatory, we had a welcome meeting. In that first meeting, the Director of the Conservatory said, “Now you represent this institution. You represent the Paris Conservatory system. Each note you are going to play must be perfect. Even if you go to a small village to play a small concert, it must be perfect.” My first feeling was, “Really?!” So I tried to be a good student. Finally I got used to that pressure, and I finally feel lighter because I don’t feel that weight any longer. I have the job of my dreams, but it hasn’t been easy. I’ve finally gotten to the point where I don’t feel that I have to prove that I deserve to have it.

My life also got lighter after my divorce. I don’t have to be ashamed to do what I want to do as an artist any longer. I can also feel things, from very good to very bad, and I can share them. I am free to experience and express a whole spectrum of emotions. I don’t have to hide the bad ones or cling only to the good ones. It felt like removing a backpack.

It’s similar to phrasing in music. You can fly when you stop stepping on each beat. (Sings the second movement of the Creston Sonata as an example.) Learning to play a line rather than each note was the same as watching my kids learn to walk. They started by stumbling, one step at a time, and then turned it into flight, rather than locking everything.


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