For 10 days, I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Gdańsk, Poland, and do an intensive study of marimba performance under Katarzyna Myćka, a world-renowned marimbist. Myćka runs an elite, international academy called IKMMA (International Katarzyna Myćka Marimba Academy). The Academy occurs every two years, but this edition was a special one. This year was the 10th-anniversary edition of IKMMA, hosting students from 15 different countries and faculty from 8.
We had a welcome and a farewell dinner at the beginning and ending of the camp, which gave us an opportunity to meet with other students at the Academy. The welcome dinner allowed us a chance to bond before we played together for the first time. The farewell dinner was a wonderful celebration of our hard work during the week, as well as a final chance to all spend some time together before some bittersweet goodbyes.
While attending IKMMA, we had 40 minute lessons every day with a different faculty member, which enriched me greatly. I was intrigued by how they chose to interpret the same piece so differently. I learned new ways to take my performance to the next level, and to understand why the composer wrote the solo the way they did. These professors cultivated an environment for me to learn how to reflect these things in the way I play.
We also participated in three different marimba ensembles. I got to perform with marimba players from Mexico, Spain, Chile, Slovenia, Greece, and Cyprus. The language barrier proved difficult at times, but our love of marimba was connecting for us. We worked through these language challenges, executed the pieces to the best of our abilities, and came to respect each others’ work ethic and talent.
Each day, the faculty organized nightly concerts for me and my peers to perform the pieces we had been working on. In addition to playing in ensembles, we played solos we had worked on in our private lessons.
The days were long and busy, but ultimately rewarding. There was always something to do or see, but the busy schedule kept us productive, and the staff did a phenomenal job accommodating the schedules to fit our needs.
Participating in these activities built up my confidence greatly. As I performed for new faculty every day, with my peers in rehearsals, and alone within a concert setting, I came to let go of the stress of sounding perfect and enjoyed the music I was creating.
I can easily say attending IKMMA was a life-changing experience. In my past year at college, I began to feel burnt out from performing a lot, but going to IKMMA revived that love of performing for me. It inspired me to find more ways to continue performing in the future, but it also gave me opportunities to connect with people of various ages, backgrounds, and cultures through our shared love of marimba. I look forward to attending another IKMMA in the future!
10th IKMMA active participant