Practice makes perfect
for fourth-grade violinist
At just 9 years old, violinist Arina Parhomenco has already performed at fundraisers, church services and for a stadium of Portland Trail Blazers fans.
“It was my first time to play in front of that many people,” Parhomenco said. “I was really excited, but I was also nervous.”
The Lowrie Primary School fourth grader started playing violin when she was 5, her mother Beatris Cherdivara said. Their family moved to Wilsonville in 2018 from Moldova, a European country that shares a border with Ukraine, and Cherdivara had heard of a talented music teacher who attended their church.
Parhomenco started learning piano and violin from the teacher, Nadiya Vasyuk, and her talent for the latter instrument soon became apparent.
“Very quickly, the violin became the lead instrument for her,” Cherdivara said.
Parhomenco played increasingly advanced pieces with her family and instructor’s support. She started with easy music, like “Jingle Bells,” Vasyuk said, but was soon perfecting concertos by famous classical composers.
Parhomenco performed the national anthem at a Blazers game against Oklahoma City in March. Playing a 20,500-seat sports arena is a tall order — especially for someone who hasn’t hit double digits in age yet — but Parhomenco knows how to handle nerves.
“I just practice a lot, and then a lot of people support me like my mom and my music teacher especially,” Parhomenco said.
Her dedication and discipline are some of her best assets, Vasyuk said. Parhomenco practices violin for about two hours each day. She’s a naturally talented musician, Vasyuk said, but her responsible attitude and drive take her to the next level.
“She likes a challenge,” Vasyuk said. “If it’s a hard piece, she practices until she gets it.”
It can be a lot of work, but Vasyuk said her student never complains. Even on days when she’d rather do something else, Parhomenco still pushes herself to rehearse.
“There were some times when it was really hard, and I was like, ‘I don’t want to do this today,’” she said. “But then if you skip a day or two, then you forget everything. It’s like taking a step back, so you need to learn everything again.”
Parhomenco also has a knack for musicality, Vasyuk said. She identifies the emotions of a piece and “feels” the music in a way other students her age often don’t.
“Most students play a piece of music like scales,” Vasyuk said. “She plays with feeling.”
Cherdivara said Vasyuk walks Parhomenco through the history of a piece, who composed it, and what it means or represents so she can connect better with it.
“If you can feel the music, you really express your feelings through it,” Parhomenco said. “It makes it sound different. It makes it sound really good.”
Parhomenco’s favorite genre is classical, but she also loves to listen to pop artists like Taylor Swift. When Parhomenco performs, Cherivara said she doesn’t worry about her daughter because she can block everything out and focus on the music.
“I know that, even if she’s nervous, once she starts and kind of thinks about the music, she forgets about other people around and just listens to it and does it,” Cherdivara said.
To give a great violin performance, Parhomenco has a few tips. First, you should learn the notes, she said. Then, it’s important to warm up with scales so you’re ready to play. Next, you should spend the most time practicing all the complex parts. Once you’ve mastered that, you can move on to the finer details, like dynamics, which direct the volume and intensity of the performance.
“That’s one of my last steps,” she said.
For other kids who want to learn a challenging skill, Parhomenco advises persistence.
“I would just say don’t give up when it gets really hard,” she said. “And practice a lot.”