If you’ve been following my Facebook feed in the last couple weeks, you’ll know I had been preparing for a big talent competition in Oregon. Yesterday, I competed, performing two of my own songs (“Walk with Me” and “Let Me Go”) for a panel of judges and a park full of people.

Unfortunately, I didn’t make the cut.

It has been ten (eleven?) years since I was last in a talent competition, and I’ll say this: it’s an entirely different ballgame when you’re playing your own music instead of things other people wrote. If you get docked covering a song by another artist, it’s luck of the draw. Maybe they didn’t like that artist? Maybe the piece didn’t fit you? Maybe the piece wasn’t a good fit for the audience? All reasonable conclusions. This time, I played two of my own songs, and no matter how you try to distance yourself, to be objective, the fact that it was your own music makes defeat more emotional. Even though you try to be rational, it still feels like a personal affront.

I spent last night doubting my ability as a musician, as a songwriter, and as an entertainer. I, in my neurotic Pisces fashion, kept re-hashing every moment of my performance, wondering if the outcome may have been different had I played a different instrument, had I chosen and rehearsed different songs.

But that’s not the point.

The point is, this is life. I’ve known all along that not everyone is going to enjoy my music — be it classical, jazz, Celtic, folk, or my own material. As my husband so aptly put it, “You can’t please everybody.” And he’s right (as he usually is). There are types of music I’m simply not fond of — how can I expect everyone to be on board with my choice of material? The point is, I can’t. And why should a competition be any different than anything else?

At the end of the day, I write and play the types of songs I want to play. This weekend reminded me of that. Music is art, and art shouldn’t be created for money or fame or other, similar reasons (thank you again, Honey, for putting it so beautifully). Fundamentally, music should be created because you love it, because you get enjoyment out of putting something of beauty into the world.

I am a singer-songwriter, and I play and share my music because I love doing it. I needed a reminder of this, and ultimately, I am glad to have received one.


6 thoughts on “Competition, defeat, and learning to move on

  1. Sorry you didn’t make the cut in the competition, that does suck. 😦 But your husband speaks wisdom, and yeah, ultimately the important thing is to play from a place of love.

    I for one am looking forward to hearing your album when it’s ready!

    1. Thank you, Anna. I’ll admit I was pretty disappointed, mostly because I had high hopes for myself and that monetary prize… 😛 But this was a good reminder — money is not why I play music. (Though it is a very nice part of it, lol!)

      Re: the album — I’ve *almost* got it done! 🙂 Got one more song to re-record (the first take didn’t have the quality I wanted), but September 1st, here I come! 🙂

  2. Music is art, and art shouldn’t be created for money or fame or other, similar reasons – those are wise words, my friend, and you should never forget that.
    Competition is like LIFE and you never know where the wind blows from. However, you have to stay true to yourself and listen to your heart.

    A wise person once told me (it was me talking to myself…he..he…) – you know how you sometimes just like somebody? You like their smile, their laughter, their personality, things they do but you never let them know? You might not even talk to them or they might even not know you exist, but they definitely make your day brighter just by existing. The same way as you feel about them there is at least one person who feel like that about you.

    so, what I am trying to say is – no matter how discouraged you might sometimes feel, know that there are people out there who love what you do, who appreciate what you do and you make a difference in their world. They might not say a word and you might never find out who they are, but they are there.

    1. “They might not say a word and you might never find out who they are, but they are there.” My husband just read that and snickered with a “Now that’s creepy.” Rotflmao!  🙂

      In all honesty, that is a very good thing to remember. It’s so true! There are artists and people I admire, but I never actually *talk* to them because I don’t want to sound like a geek. I never considered I might be in that position.

      Thank you. 🙂


      1. ha..ha…look who is talking. Don’t tell me your husband didn’t stalk you? I know him too well to let this pass by without a comment.

        Well, let me ask you a question. When you are performing, don’t you have people who come to see you do that? there is some kind of advertising, right? You know that it is true that there are people who keep an eye on you and come to enjoy your music.

      2. Hehehe. Well… it was a friendly stalking. With offers of a home-grown steak dinner. 😉 Naw, mostly he just looked cute. Of course, I *may* have been “stalking” him right back, so it all works, lol.

        And you’re very right. There IS advertising, and people DO make the choice to come into the establishment on nights I’m there. I’d just never looked at it from that angle. So much of performing is from the “backstage” mindset: I’m going to be playing ___ songs, I need to pack this gear, I need to wear this, I need to prep the instruments, bring the tip jar, get everything set up by such-and-such time… So much of it is minutiae that actually has very little to do with the act of actually *playing.*

        I’m reading a book now about stage performance and it’s really opening my eyes to the other aspect of it — the communication with the audience. I blame my lack of understanding in this department on too many classical music recitals when I was young… Recitals are very much a “hide behind the music stand with your most difficult piece and wow the silent audience with sheer technicality” type of show. Playing in a club or a bar is a totally different atmosphere (and I like it).

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