Coping with the stress and nerves of performing is one of the toughest obstacles to overcome at a high-level competition like the USA International Harp Competition. During the competition, the performers play for a panel of seven elite judges, plus the public audience. Also, with each stage that passes, the number of contestants who continue to the next stage is reduced significantly. The first stage begins with 40 competitors; the second stage is cut to 20 competitors; the third stage- 8; and the final stage- 3. The competitors have worked for more than two years on these pieces and suddenly, they have one shot to play as best and as perfectly as possible. That is a lot of pressure!! So how do the competitors cope with this stress?
“I think most of the competition stress is mental fixation, so I try to just stay relaxed and calm throughout the whole process.”- Noël Wan, USA
“I try not to think that I am in a competition. Instead, I just think of giving a recital. I just focus on my music and the progress that I am making while preparing for a competition this big. Also, I have my friends who are there to support me whenever I go crazy!”- Olivia Kim, USA
“Reminding myself that I chose to do this and it should be FUN!”- Hannah Cope Johnson, USA
“This is especially difficult. It is important for me to focus on the music, performing well and being happy with my playing rather than focusing on the outcome as this can cause a lot of stress.” – Catherine Derrick, United Kingdom
“I eat sweets!”- Ritsuko Arima, Japan
“Remembering all the positive performance experiences prior to the competition, all the encouragement I have received from dear friends and teachers, and that no matter what happens, I have improved a great deal in the process and will continue to do so.”- Elizabeth Bass, United Kingdom
Stage II will continue both today, June 13, and tomorrow, June 14. Results for stage II will be posted tomorrow evening.
(Featured photo artwork by Seika Dong. Circles on hands represent confusion and stress)