La Maya (Japan)

photo credits: Maya Yoshida

Maya is a violinist in Spain. She plays a wide range of music including Flamenco, Irish Folk, Classical, Jazz and Electronic.

Maya, when and why did you start to play the violin?

I started with the piano. This is a typical thing for Japanese kids to do, so my mother made me do it. Not only that, but it was also like she was trying to wake me up. I was a very “sleepy” kid in that my reflexes towards everything were very slow. Like a snail or a turtle or even slower. 🙂 I was always daydreaming and wasn’t very present. My thoughts were somewhere else—on another planet. It seemed like nothing could help me get my feet back on the ground. My mother tried everything. Piano, Dance, Math,….. nothing helped. Musically, I was really bad at the piano and never wanted to practice. I never memorized or learned my music.
Then one day, I tagged along with my best friend to a violin lesson. When I got home, I told my parents straight away that I also wanted to play the violin. Of course, they were very skeptical because I’d never taken my piano lessons or any kind of music lessons seriously. But from that moment on, I was wide awake. I knew I was a violinist. I wanted to express myself through my music and I needed people to hear me. As a little kid, I decided that this was my destiny and the reason for my existence.

How often and how long do you have to practice?

I used to practice 8 hours a day like all classical violin teachers say, but then along the way I found out that there was no point to practicing so many hours unless your concentration lasts that long. Nobody’s concentration lasts for more than 2 hours straight. Your mind wanders off, say every 30 minutes. So I give myself breaks in between and only practice whenever I really want to because I have learned to memorize every cord.
What does it feel to perform in public? Do you get nervous sometimes? How do you deal with stage fright?
I used to get shaky legs or accidently do an automatic vibrato (sound decoration technique with the violin). But I think this was only when I used to play classical music. Because while 2 plus 2 is always a 4 in classical, it can equal 5 or 11 in Jazz, flamenco, or other types of music. You see, there is no right or wrong. Since I’ve realized this, I don’t get nervous anymore. I have learned that practice, and knowing what you’re playing to the very core, knowing what you sound like, takes the stage fright away. I record myself often in my practice sessions to know what I sound like.

What is your fondest concert memory?

My fondest concert memories are when people have come up to me after the concert and told me how much my music touched their hearts and brought tears to their eyes. That’s when I feel like I have made them feel something deep and this means everything to me. Lots of us musicians play music to reach our audience’s hearts, to communicate from heart to heart. It’s one of the best jobs that exist, I think.

You have played and written so many different types of music, do you have any preferences? If so, why?

I have always been attracted and fascinated by the sound of guitar and violin together. That’s one of the main reasons why I like flamenco. I think every human body has a vibration and the Phrygian scale used in flamenco suits my vibration. But I think there is no musician who likes only one type of music, although most people just tend to study one or two styles. I think I’m too curious in that sense. I mostly like any kind of music and I feel that I want to explore as many different types of music as possible. People ask me “So what do you actually play? What’s your main style?” I just answer I’m a violinist and I play various styles.

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