Don't judge me

I've been invited to judge a few music competitions over the years. I love it. Which is bizarre, since they are about as far removed from my comfort zone as a performer as I can get... I don't think I can think of anything worse, to be honest.

However, as a judge I'm not only 'safe' I'm also in a position to be able to give the sort of useful feedback, smiling face and positive support that I would wish for, were I to be the brave soul on the stage (and oh my god are they brave).

Most recently, I was invited to be a judge of Shatin College's 'Young Musician's Festival'. It was wonderful and I was full of awe of the (apparently) unshakable nerves of these young performers.

Having judged a few secondary school competitions now, there were some of the standard 'issues' (and I that term very reservedly) - not acknowledging the audience or accompanists, jumping straight in rather than settling down and the most common (and completely understandable one) - looking like you are facing a firing squad.

However there were some truly wonderful things too: excellent music choices that suited a teenager (rather than the completely emotionally unsuitable works that I have occassionally heard), taking time within the music to pause - always wonderful to hear, and of course, some genuinely musical playing.

The overall winner was a Year 13 student, Weng Yan Chow who blew everyone away with her playing of Copland's 'Cat and Mouse' which I'd never heard before. A great example of the right music for her age group. She was an athlete, a comedienne and an impecable performer. It was a privilege to hear and see her play. She was a worthy winner and I am sure will go on to wow many people in the future.

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