“Studying under the mentorship of Professor Ory Shihor was a privilege in more ways than I can count. Not only did he educate me in the art of piano playing itself, he also provided me with crucial guidance during the college application process; perhaps the most demanding, pivotal and ultimately rewarding period of a music student’s life. His mentorship provided me with the clarity to prioritize the different elements of my application, with the structure to prepare everything as efficiently as possible, and with the tools and skills to execute them once the time came.
He was able to shed light on many meaningful and subtle considerations I would not have realized otherwise. For example, he helped me reach the decision that it would be in my best interest to take a gap year between high school and college in order to fully immerse myself in my musical endeavors before applying to school. A decision that went against the grain, and an opportunity I would have otherwise felt pressured into passing up. Thus, he opened my mind to applying the invaluable life skill of detecting differences, both large and subtle, that must be considered and carefully weighed during life decisions.
Additionally, although I did acquire numerous beneficial practice techniques from Mr. Shihor, the structural elements he provided ventured far beyond just pianistic methodology. He opened my eyes to the fact that to truly succeed during the college application process, I had to organize myself psychologically and emotionally as well as pianistically. For example, Mr. Shihor helped me realize that repertoire which aligned with my temperament, and that worked as a cohesive whole, was the most effective audition technique for showcasing my strengths as a musician.
Even beyond musicianship, his mentorship helped me dearly in my personal life; through which he gave me the tools to broaden and refine my skillset with not simply techniques, but mindsets that allowed me to reach my full potential before, during and even well after the auditions had finished. These included how to take command of my breathing, stage presence, and integration of my physical, emotional and musical focus. However, perhaps the most poignant among these lessons was how to face failure with grace. Learning to treat failure as an opportunity for honing the craft of self-evaluation was one of the most meaningful things I learned from Mr. Shihor.
Furthermore, another quality that I truly appreciated was not only how intensive but how accessible and supportive his mentorship was as well. At a time when I was overwhelmed by a seemingly endless ocean of applications, Mr. Shihor not only helped me to develop a command over the piano but a command over my practice habits, self-confidence, and depth of understanding as a musician. As a pedagogue, he maintained the same learning-conducive principles with utmost care and diligence. Every lesson with Mr. Shihor was an extraordinary learning experience in every possible way. I can now say with confidence that I have been accepted into the schools and studios of my dreams, and I would not have been able to do so without Mr. Shihor’s tireless guidance, mentorship and belief in me as a student. I am eternally grateful to him for all that he has helped me with.