On Performing: NFA Young Artist Competition Winner Ramakrishnan Kumaran


Rama Kumaran, a sophomore at Vanderbilt University, studies with Professor Philip Dikeman at the Blair School of Music.  Past teachers include Yamaha Performing Artist Tracy Harris and chamber and orchestral flutist Karen Hansen.  Rama is the youngest winner of the National Flute Association’s Young Artist Competition. 

Among Rama’s central ambitions is the ability to communicate deeply with any audience he encounters: he takes great pride in his past service initiatives including “August Winds”, a benefit recital for the rehabilitation of abused and neglected children; “Lunchroom Repertory”, a theatre program inspiring novice thespians to seek the spotlight (he’s an unabashed Shakespeare enthusiast); several history/leadership classes in his Commonwealth School, where he mentored youth to live by timeless principles of personal and public victory; and his Eagle Scout service project, in which he invited a team of fellow voice-actors to perform two works of children’s literature, and transcribed the works into Braille text to contribute to the library at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.  A recipient of the Cornelius Vanderbilt Scholarship, Rama has also achieved notable honors from the National YoungArts Foundation, NPR’s “From the Top” radio show, the National Flute Association, and members of the Blair School and his local SoCal community.  He currently pursues a double major in Flute Performance and Computer Science.  In his spare time away from principal passions, Rama enjoys spoken-word poetry, fight choreography, Renaissance Faires, and very, very dark chocolate.



What was your routine prior to performing at the NFA Young Artist Competition? Any rituals or steps (drinking water, visualizing, meditating, etc?)

“When I perform, I have to be absolutely confident in everything my body and mind can achieve. So before I climb onstage, I spend a few moments taking care of myself.”


Breath builder

1. I warm up my body with physical and technical warm-ups (Breath Builder, scale/arpeggio flexibility exercises from Julius Baker’s Daily Exercises, and precision exercises with harmonics).


Test your recital hall – especially if it’s like this. Photo courtesy of Eastman School of Music


2. Especially if I’m already in my performance venue, I move around to become aware of the space I’m going to fill with my sound. How big does it FEEL? (A big room can sometimes feel very small, and vice versa.) What are the acoustics like? Is the air particularly cold or warm? How comfortably can I move around?





3. I prime my mental equipment with words of affirmation. These words take many forms; sometimes I direct them inwards, and other times I direct them upwards.

“I am prepared, I am capable, and I am worthy of my audience. I recognize the honor, the privilege, and the blessing to be able to transform my listeners with every moment I present myself before them.”


I would like to thank Ramakrishnan Kumaran for his performance prep insights.

the flute examiner

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