You Can Get It If You Really Want

Yesterday I had the great pleasure to listen to a fantastic concert in a rather small town – on a Monday night. See, my daughter is a musician with high ambitions. Without her I would have never known of these exquisite little concerts in beautiful old churches, of these amazingly talented young artists in rural Ontario, and of these dedicated music instructors bringing out such talent. Yesterday I listened to the Hanover-Walkerton ORMTA (Ontario Registered Music Teachers’ Association) Branch Young Artist Student Competition. – Wow. That’s a long name!

I got in for a treat listening to two amazing vocalists and five outstanding pianists, all grade 8 and higher, with the last performer being even in the Associate level. When it was my daughter’s turn, she walked up, introduced her pieces -“Sonata in A+, Hob XVI:12, 1st movement,” by Franz Joseph Haydn, “Moment Musicale, Op. 94, No.3,” by Franz Schubert and “Run, Run!” by Octavio Pinto – and sat down to play. I rarely heard my daughter perform so well. I watched her hands dance across the piano keys with a lightness and ease that reminded me of a ballerina seemingly floating across the stage. And the piano responded in return producing tones I’ve never heard on our own piano. I had to look away, afraid I might distract my daughter with my fascinated stare from behind and instead I admired the church’s stained glass windows while listening in awe.


The performances were all amazing! Two hours passed in a blink and I enjoyed them so much. You could tell music was not only each performer’s passion, these young musicians  all have a promising future ahead of them. I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to be the adjudicator. However, the adjudicator, Catherine Robertson, from the University of Waterloo was fantastic herself spending generous time afterwards to give feedback, encouragements, and tips for all the young artists. I think everyone, whether vocalist or pianist could learn from the comments she gave to the other performers as well.

Ms. Robertson’s feedback alone would have been worth the trip. But as a bonus, Emily got one of the three Young Artist Student awards and will be going on to the next level. Each performance in front of an audience is helping her, each professional feedback will get her ahead, because Emily has set her goals high. Just after she has passed the RCM practical piano grade 8 examination at the end of January, she is steering full speed to the next practical piano grade 9 examination at the beginning of June. Two grades in one year is no easy task, especially on this level. But one has to try! – If she fails, well she will be disappointed, but she knows we will still love her just as much. If she fails, she will have lost quite a bit of money and her self-esteem will get temporarily bruised – but it won’t kill her. If she fails, she will dust herself off and try again. But she is not preparing to fail. She’s rather aiming for honours … with distinction…


If two-and-a-half months of practicing her grade 9 pieces got Emily already an award, I believe she can achieve anything she puts her mind to. I believe we all can achieve whatever we really want to, if we only try. Why do we settle so often for mediocrity then? Because we are afraid to fail?

Nobody likes to fail, I’m no exception. I revise my writing countless times and forget to submit… But if we don’t even try, how can we know what we are capable of? There’s no artist, no matter the field, who doesn’t need to put themselves out there. It can be very frightening, but it could be very rewarding as well. Who knows in advance?

It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default. — J. K. Rowling

I applaud all the young artists who were brave enough to put themselves out there in front of an adjudicator yesterday. There will be many more competitions and festivals coming up and I wish you the very best! It takes guts to perform in front of an audience.

As for our daughter, we sure didn’t raise a “Wunderkind,” we are messing her up in our own way just like most other parents do with their children… But we encourage her to go after her dreams. And if we taught her one thing, then to not be afraid of trying, even if that means to fail once in a while.

Are you trying to achieve something right now? What is it? And are you settling for mediocre, or are you striving for excellence? – I know you can do it, whatever it is. Try!



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