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Musician Interviews – Aydin Iqbal

Aydin started playing the Clarinet in 6th grade, choosing the instrument after testing multiple other wind instruments. . In his 7th-grade year, he won the district Solo and Ensemble competition, as well as placing 1st in the TMEA All-Region competition the following year. He was granted the Lewisville ISD Outstanding Soloist Award in 2019. He is currently the principal clarinetist and woodwind section leader of the Evergreen Philharmonic Orchestra. He won the WMEA Solo and Ensemble regional competition in 2022 and went on to win the state-level competition. Aydin has also placed as a finalist in the NOCCO Concerto competition, and in NPR’s program From The Top.

Where were you born? What places have you lived in?

I was born in Atlanta, Georgia. I lived there for 2 years until I moved to Dallas, Texas. I lived there until Covid hit and that’s when I came here. 

Who have you studied under in your life so far?

When I lived in Texas, I studied under Lynn Ciebert. After I moved here, I started studying under Brian Shapples. I really enjoyed lessons with him and continued them into early 2022. During April of 2022 I started taking lessons with Emil Khudyev. He is hands down the best teacher I have ever worked with.

What is the biggest adversity you have faced? Biggest moment of your life?

The hardest time in my life was when I moved from Texas to Washington. I was leaving behind everyone I grew up with for the previous 12 years. I would have to take on the task of finding my way alone without the help of my family or friends. This was made even more challenging by the fact that Covid-19 was at its peak, so I couldn’t even go out to make new friends or start a new life. For a little over a year I felt completely isolated and lonely. Although these times created a lot of stress for me, I was also able to learn so much about myself. I really honed in on my passion for music, practicing for hours every day. I also started to think more about what kind of life I want to live when I get older. While I did go through a lot of pain during this time, I came out better on the other end, and I am therefore grateful to have had such an experience.

Do you plan to pursue music as a career?

Yes! I want to go to college and double major in Performing Arts for Clarinet and Computer Science. The most ideal scenario for me is to have a full time job as a programmer while being in a professional symphony. It is my dream to be able to be involved with music for the rest of my life. When I am older, maybe I will become a music teacher so I can pass my passion on to others who share a similar ambition.

What is your favorite part of being a musician? What’s your least favorite?

My favorite and what I argue to be the most important part of music is how it connects people. Music is a form of communication that can be used to transmit any idea or emotion to anyone anywhere. It is versatile in its ability to express a vast range of human thought. As a musician, I find so much joy in being able to express my ideas through my performances, and in being able to interpret ideas from the composer of a piece. My least favorite part of being a musician is having to combat the constant pressure to make a perfect performance. I have a problem where I try to make a piece sound precisely how I want it to, and If it doesn’t go that way in a performance I tend to beat myself up about it. I know this is an unhealthy mindset and it’s one that I’ve been making efforts to change for years. During this journey of accepting myself and my mistakes, I have gotten better, but it isn’t quite over yet.

Do you have any pet peeves that people who are musicians constantly do?

My only pet peeve is when musicians get too competitive to the point that they are dragging others down. I love competition. It is a fun way to measure your own skill among that of others and it can spur a large amount of motivation. It is important though to keep in mind that competition is only fun if everyone can show the best version of themselves, and I don’t mean just musically. So many musicians tend to get hung up on comparing themselves to others that they end up having a negative mindset that only damages their performances and those around them. I think this is wrong and completely defeats the point of musical competition. At that point, people stop making real music. The performance loses the qualities of genuine communication which make it special.

What is the most memorable moment you have of your musical career?

The most memorable moment of my musical career is when I performed the Weber Concertino with the Evergreen Philharmonic in April of 2022 for the annual concerto competition. This performance took more preparation from me than anything before. 

What is your biggest inspiration? 

My parents have always been the most hardworking people I know. They have sacrificed so much for my sister and me, and every day they work as hard as they can to achieve their goals. I am always astonished by how disciplined and warm they are. My parents have the ability to prioritize the right things at the right time. This leads them to having a really well balanced lifestyle which motivates me to do the same.

Have you ever taught music to someone else, if not, would you consider it in the future?

I am currently considering teaching beginner clarinetists. I think that it would be a wonderful experience for me to grow as a musician because by teaching others, I will become better at observing mistakes in myself, which will help me make more improvements. The only thing standing in my way of teaching is time management. I have to be careful about what I prioritize right now because my life is super busy. So adding the responsibility of teaching would be another thing that makes me busier. I want to make an informed decision on what is best for me. That is why I am still taking the time to think about it. 

What is one piece of advice you would give to younger musicians?

I think that many young musicians lose motivation when they start comparing themselves to those around them. I remember when I was first starting out, there were many people who were way more experienced and talented than I was. This made the task of learning the instrument seem daunting. However, my teachers helped me focus on my own progress instead of focusing on that of others. As a result, I progressed much quicker and felt better since I could see the results of my hard work. The pressure of competition is normal and it’s a good thing. However, everyone has different experiences and a different road to success. By focusing on how much better others are, it’s easy to lose focus on yourself. This draws your attention away from what’s actually essential, your own progress and journey.

For the full list of his accomplishments, visit Aydins Musician Bio

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