Hannah ('15) and Ethan ('14) Wagner

Ethan and Hannah Wagner

SUMMARY: An interview with the Wagners: Hannah (class of 2015) and Ethan (class of 2014)

How much do you practice each day?

Hannah: I make sure that I do five hours, if not more. That’s for private lessons. And then we also have three hours of rehearsals. It really depends on the day.

Ethan: It’s about the same for me, although lately it’s been a little more because of my senior recital. Yesterday, in fact, was probably seven or eight hours. Of course, you can’t do that every day.

hannah-and-ethan-wagner.jpgHow do you keep from burning out?

Ethan: I think what has helped me is realizing that there are difference kinds of practice that you can do. You have the really detailed, focused kind of practice where you are teaching yourself new things, where you are learning things about the piece and about the instrumenting sometimes, and then there’s also this repetition that’s so important, as well.

Hannah: Sometimes you can have your brain basically turned off, but your hands will keep going just because of muscle memory. Sometimes, that can still be really good.

Ethan: Sometimes, you just have to say, “OK, I’m not going to learn a new passage tonight, but I can review this that I have learned slowly and just keep getting it smoother and smoother. That doesn’t take as much mental or physical effort, but you are still making some progress. So it’s just a matter of balancing out when you practice what, and that all comes with experience.

Is there such a beast as a typical day for you?

Hannah: We try to schedule the earliest classes so that it gets us here to campus as early as possible. So we’ll get here, go to our first class, and then have two hours before the next class so in those two hours you practice, then go to the next class, come back, practice two more hours. Then you go to orchestra, and then you have different rehearsals with people. And then in the evenings, it’s practice and maybe get a little bit of homework done. For us, practicing is our main focus. Even if we don’t always get our homework done, we have to get our practice in. We basically just sleep at our house. We live here at Forbes.

Ethan: We share a car. We live about 15 minutes away and that’s actually been very helpful because there’s no going back to your dorm after class or any of that. We usually stay until about midnight every night.

Do you feel as if you are improving?

Hannah: Yes. Definitely. I’ll hear recording of myself right before I came to school or the first year of college, and then maybe a recording now, and I think oh, I can hear a big difference. Unless I’m listening to the recordings, though, I’m not always so sure. I think I’m getting worse. The truth is that your ear starts hearing more details that you were missing before.

Has JMU been a good choice for you?

Hannah: Oh yes. It has been a very good choice for me. We have had a great time being here together.

Ethan: JMU has been a great choice for me, as well. And it’s been kind of a nice mix especially since this Forbes Center came along because you get that kind of small-school experience in a good way because of the intensity of the program and the small amount of people who you spend time around, and at the same time you have this great facility to practice and also to perform in. I think that’s a rare combination at other schools.

So what’s next?

Ethan: I am pursuing a master’s program here at JMU.

Hannah: I’m actually getting married right after I graduate, and then we’re going out to Illinois to work at a church out there. I will be doing a lot of music within the church, so I am by no means dropping music at all.

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Published: Sunday, January 19, 2014

Last Updated: Tuesday, January 26, 2021

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