Final thought...

My final thought to share with you is that during the competition, I was listening to Alicia Keys’ latest album, The Element of Freedom, in my car. At the very start of the album, she quotes the diarist Anais Nin: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” And she adds, “This is the element of freedom.” I took a lot of inspiration from those words, which really helped me to deal with my fears before the Final. I had to look deep inside myself to find true confidence and an honest desire to go out in front of everyone and really ‘live’ the music.

Something about the pressure of a competition like this – the length of time preparing, the money spent on getting there, the exhaustion of working so hard in my day-to-day life too, (for me, combining all that discipline with being a mother), even just the loneliness of it all…it really gets to you. It fills you with dread and the fear of failure. I decided that day to ‘give myself up’ entirely to the music – to trust what I knew I knew, to experience the dream of performing the most wonderful harp concerto with a superb orchestra and conductor – my dream…and to do it without fear, but with excitement, love and freedom. That really is the element of freedom – and it is well worth finding! I am indebted to all the people in my life, not forgetting the competition organisers themselves- who helped me to achieve that and to realise my goals.

That's all from me about this competition in particular, but I hope to put up more posts with lots of tips for young harpists preparing for contests...maybe even a check list of things to take with you will appear at some point! Of course, all of my ideas are personal to me - it would be so interesting to learn how other harpists prepare, compete, stay sane and if they also enjoy the experience!

Highly Strung