Only Compete Against Yourself

Last Friday, some of my harp friends and I all played for one another.  We were playing some of our jury pieces which we’ll have to perform for marks some time in April (juries are what we call solo performance exams).  While I was listening to my two friends play, I couldn’t help but think, Holy smokes!  These guys are waaaaaay better than me! It discouraged me to see such a gap in skill between me and my friends, even though one is in the same year as me and the other is only a year ahead.  It was hard not to get depressed and think that I’ll never be a great player.

The thing that I realized though, is that our performances can’t really be compared as to who is the better harpist, and it isn’t a marker of how much either of us has learned this year.  I’ve been struggling with tendinitis since November (I still am), and that has seriously limited the time I can practice, whereas the others can practice for four hours a day.  So even though I want to practice my guts out so I can improve and play harder music and sound better and all that, I can’t – talk about frustrating! The other thing is that the other harpists have both been playing at least twice as long as I have.  That’s a big head start.

When I look back at September, I can see how far I’ve come over the last seven months or so.  I’ve come a really long way, especially when I consider the fact that I’ve be injured, too.  I am doing remarkably well, at least I think so, and I’m excited to see what I can do next year, when I’m not injured.  And the fact is, there will always be someone in the world who is better than I am.  If the only way I’ll be satisfied is to be the absolute best in the world, I’ll never be happy!  But I can be happy knowing that I’ve improved a lot and I’m giving the best performance I possibly can.  That is something to be proud of.

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