A day in the life of a graduating conservatoire student: Kalina Vladovska

22 May 2024

Exam season has started and the energy at the Royal Conservatoire is electric! We'll be shadowing some of our most talented musicians and dancers. Dive into their daily routines, discover their study hacks, and witness firsthand the passion that fuels their artistic journeys.
Today, we take a closer look at a graduating musician's daily life: Kalina Vladovska, a master's student specializing in contemporary percussion.

Exam preparation and performance pieces

Kalina’s exam program is an illustration of her versatility and dedication. Among her repertoire, the standout piece is "Khan Variations" by Alejandro Viñao, a challenging marimba solo known for its complex rhythms and polyrhythms. Additionally, Kalina will perform a self-composed piece with a dancer, reflecting her interdisciplinary approach. This dynamic program showcases her multifaceted skills and artistic vision.

Collaborating with composers, dancers and friends

'I wanted to show all the things that I'm busy with," Kalina explains. "For example, I've been working with dance, so I'm performing a duo with a dancer, and it's going to be our own composition and choreography. It's amazing to collaborate so closely and bring our ideas to life.

Kalina finds it important to conclude her studies together with her friends from the conservatoire. ‘Harpist Sanne Bakker (want to know more about Sanne? Read this interview about her Master Research) and I really wanted to play a piece together, so we asked composition student Katherine Teng to compose a piece, especially for us. We will perform this piece on both of our exams.

I will also play a septet with six other percussionists. I'm really happy to be playing all together as an ensemble at the final!’

Mental practicing without an instrument

"My daily routine changes a lot," Kalina admits. "I don't like strict schedules, but I do plan what I want to accomplish by the end of the day." Her mornings typically start with a physical warm-up followed by mental practice sessions. "I work a lot with mental practicing, studying a piece while traveling, by listening to it very focused, visualizing the parts I already know, or by reading the score. This way I can keep the work going without access to an instrument"

Kalina’s practice sessions are driven by her intuition. "If I feel fresh, I'll tackle the complicated piece. If I need a break, I'll switch to something easier," she says. This flexible approach keeps her engaged and motivated.

An exam as a reflection of identity

"I'm not particularly nervous about my exam," Kalina says confidently. "I want to perform and showcase something I'm proud of. The program is a true reflection of my identity because it includes my compositions and collaborations with friends. It’s like a musical passport, showing everything, I've learned and experienced here."

Finding support in the percussion department

Kalina acknowledges the challenges of preparing for such a diverse program. "The fear if any of the pieces are actually going to work keeps me on edge, but it also makes it exciting," she confesses. She draws inspiration from a Leonard Bernstein quote: "To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time."

Support from her teachers has been crucial. "In the percussion department, we're lucky to have four teachers with different perspectives. They help us think creatively and push our boundaries," Kalina explains.

Future plans and career aspirations

After graduation, Kalina will prepare for a competition at the end of the year, using her exam repertoire as a checkpoint. "I have gigs lined up at festivals, and I’ll also take a break to spend time with friends and travel," she says. Kalina plans to stay in The Hague, finding instruments and spaces to continue her practice.

This is not the first time we speak with Kalina about her development as a musician.
You can read those articles here and here.

Don’t miss out on Kalina’s musical journey!

Just like all other students' exams, Kalina's performance is open to the public and completely free.

Click here for more information on all the exams

Kalina’s exam will be on the 10th of June at 20.00h in the Conservatoriumzaal.