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Violinist, coach to musicians Aline Champion: It is not enough anymore just to play well

Aline Champion

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra violinist, professor at Music University of Geneva HEM, Aline Champion takes a wide stand on a musician’s career; it is not just about playing and fine-tuning the musical performance and details but also including all the different aspects of the musician’s life and career: physical and mental coaching, planning, practicing and managing it all.

Champion established her own music academy, the Villars Music Academy, to Switzerland this Summer, and she also has attended the LEAD! Fiskars Summer Academy in Finland. The idea of both of these is to offer mentoring and a holistic approach to the future career for young aspiring musicians.

Based on her own 20-years experience as a professional, she got the spark to inspire young musicians more widely than just the music making practicalities. She wanted to share her experiences to the younger generation.

“I want to talk to them about what I have learned: things I noticed I need and use on stage, things I wish I had known earlier in my career.”

Champion encourages musicians to learn to know their true selves and to be curious about themselves.

“The better you know yourself, the better you will be able to function. And when you function well, you also feel better. It is important to learn how to use your brain so that it works for you, not against you. Find the things that motivate you but also find out how to motivate yourself.”

Champion says that in the career of music, it can sometimes be difficult to get back to the essentials and to the core. She also talks to the young students about human things – about coaching, mental awareness and state of mind, physical awareness, and relaxation.

“It is not enough these days to be a good player. You need to do more – and this is what we are now doing in these projects. When I was younger, I used to think that if I just played well enough, people will come to me. This is not the case anymore.”

“Plan your practicing, find the person you really are and stand behind it”

Being a professional musician requires a lot of practicing. But Champion says you need to manage your energy and get organised with your practicing.

“Good practice is not about playing for 10 hours a day. You need to plan it, go back to the basics and also include your preparation time and relaxation in it – and have your mind present, too. If you are well prepared you also feel better. And if you feel better, you play better. This also helps with issues like stage fright. You have to keep in mind that even when you are not playing, your brain and your subconsciousness is working for you. So take breaks! “

The world is getting faster, and everything is about the image. This has found its way to the music world, too.

“I don’t like this tendency, and I decided not to play that game of pretending. You should stand behind who you are. That is the only we really can have an impact on people around you. You can only be convincing if you are convinced yourself and if it is true. You also have to be ready to take responsibility of yourself and what you do – and have the courage to say no. These are also questions of life-long learning”.

Aline Champion is one of the international coaches of the LEAD! orchestra project, taking place in Finland in September 2022. LEAD! The Orchestra Project is an international project that provides young musicians with coaching and mentorship to develop their leadership, communication skills and industry awareness. The project is led by conductor Jukka-Pekka Saraste. In 2022, the project is implemented in collaboration with the Swiss Haute école de musique Genève, the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music of the National University of Singapore, and the Sibelius Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki, culminating in concerts in Helsinki, Lahti and Tampere in September 2022. Working with the best in the world in their own specialties, students gain knowledge and experience to support their artistic identity and career. The Sibelius Academy, Uniarts Helsinki’s participation in this project is supported by the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation. 

Sounding together

In this blog you can take a look at the international everyday life and hightlights of the ensemble and orchestra playing and singing of the Sibelius Academy’s Department of Classical Music, presented through the eyes of our staff and students. Visit behind the scenes of our orchestras, choirs and chamber music activities.

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