Introducing: Caroline Modiba

“It doesn’t really matter what skin colour you are, if you’re talented enough then that’s where you should be”.

I got involved with classical music when I was still in school in South Africa. There were choral music school competitions and the finals took place in winter. And then the opera section was introduced and I thought “why not try my luck”. I made it to the finals and I made an impression to a few people who later introduced me to Sannie Streicher who was a voice coach. I took lessons with her while I was completing my high school diploma. After graduation I decided to study Bcom Management (business course) which had nothing to do with music but then music found me again. I was still taking singing lessons with Lorraine at this time and I heard about auditions for young artists training programme. I went to audition and got accepted in the 3 year training course with the Black Tie Ensemble which was an opera company with their own training programme. After completing the course I was accepted as a member and started earning money through my talent, which was great I thought.

There’s a lot of people of colour in the industry already, especially singers and for me it doesn’t really matter what skin colour you are, if you’re talented enough then that’s where you should be. It would be nice though if we could get more people of colour in the audience. I haven’t had any bad experiences as a black person in the industry and all the good experiences I’ve had I believe had to do with my talent and not my skin colour.

Caroline was one of the soloists in Verdi’s Messa Di Requiem performed by Birmingham Conservatoire. You can listen to her phenomenal voice in concert here and here.

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Procrastination, Motivation & Discipline

The Two Set Violin guys call it Pracrastination. Pracrastination? Yes: Procrastination for practise.

Particularly for student musicians, I think it’s a common issue. It can often be very easy to put off the hours of practise and say you’ll do it with it later.  Also, the fact that no-one else is watching makes it easier to procrastinate.

It’s definitely something that I struggle with from time to time.  At times, I can be super motivated and utilise my time well; at others, I can be quite talented in the art of procrastination.

Finding different sources of motivation is imperative for me in order to avoid procrastination. I’ve noticed that I often procrastinate when I’m feeling demotivated. Lack of motivation leads to procrastination. This cycle can last for a few days or a few months however the longer it continues, breaking out of it becomes increasingly more difficult.

One of the benefits of learning an instrument from a young age is that one can easily learn discipline as a by-product. Having a routine and something to focus on and have fun with definitely lays some foundations for skills like organisation, creativity and becomes an advantage later on in life. Unfortunately, I didn’t begin learning the violin at a young age  so the foundations of discipline were not already there. I kind of had to work things out   by myself i.e. a practise schedule and balancing that with homework etc. Despite this, I’d say that this helped me to find motivation from myself and no one else which is always a good thing to have when no one else is there for encouragement.

I’m constantly looking for new ways to freshen up my practise so that it doesn’t become stagnant.  I believe that musicians can adopt certain attitudes pertaining to sport. In the way that athletes train to maintain their fitness and work towards a tournament or competition, musicians can do the  same. Practise is our training for a performance. For me, thinking in this way gives me a new lease of motivation.

“I hated every minute of training, but I said ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion’”. – Muhammad Ali

I love the late Muhammad Ali’s quote and the same idea is relevant for musicians. Practise and having the motivation to practise is not always easy. Some days are better than others and they can be quite tedious. However, the more good practise we do, the better musicians we’re able to become. Don’t quit, stay motivated!

 

 

 

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BMus 1

The transition from sixth former to fully-fledged,  self-sufficient adult wasn’t a difficult one for me. Purcell was a great school for giving sixth formers a good amount of independence. I found that boarding school was the best preparation for university/conservatoire life because I was living away from home at 16. So for me, the living independently aspect was absolutely fine – sorted.

Year 1 at music college/ university definitely started out as a lot of fun but I soon began to realise that my care-free days at Purcell are long over.  Having gone through the rigmarole of applying of student finance and the enrolment process, I really did realise that being a full time student was something that I’d have to do for myself. Suddenly I found that I was the one that had to fill out all the forms and sort myself out. Doing the important stuff like registering at a new doctor’s surgery didn’t even cross my mind. Going from school student status  to suddenly being a ‘responsible adult’ at 18 is a tricky transition.

I had already decided in my head that I wanted to approach being a full time student differently to being in compulsory education. It’s different in that there is no one there to push you and ultimately, the incentive and motivation to do things must come from oneself. So, from day 1, I knew that I just wanted to dedicate as much time as I could to improving my skills as a violinist – specifically working on performance anxiety and technical issues that were significantly holding up my development. And in order to do that, it was a matter of prioritising. I prioritised my personal development over the more social aspects of student life. I can honestly say that I made the right decision for me hence being  MIA for the last few months. Committing myself to making a conscious effort to work on myself and the things that are important to me paid off.

May 25th was my final recital which marked the end of my first year at Birmingham Conservatoire. I played a really great, varied programme: Brahms: Scherzo from the F-A-E sonata, Bach: Sonata No.1 for solo violin (Adagio and Presto) and Sarasate: Romanza Andaluza. I enjoyed my repertoire despite there being a few difficulties. All I can say is that  a year ago, I faced considerable challenges both musically and personally and I have achieved most things that I set out to.

Bring on BMus 2 in September 2016 🙂