Tag Archives: Competitions

Last minute changes

Last week I wrote about rejection, and it was when I found out that my second competition piece hadn’t won, that I found out about another call for scores. It had been my intention to submit a movement to that competition this week. Well deadline was tonight, and I got really sick on Wednesday. I was lying pretty useless on the couch for a couple of days, and then today I got to hold my feverish child most of the day.

Thankfully, there wasn’t a lot I still needed to do to submit the piece, and this evening, with less than two hours to spare, I got on my computer and handed off kid-duty to my awesome husband and gave kids hand signals to leave me alone while I focused on the last minute things I still had to do to send it in.

There was one thing that stood out to me, and it was towards the end of the movement. For some reason, I had the second clarinet cut out in the middle of the building up to the end, and it just looked funny to me. So I decided to write a part for that instrument by doubling the second flute, and it just looked better, and I’m sure will feel more satisfying for the person playing that part.

I added a cover page, added a couple of notes that make it easier to read for the conductor, and fixed some funny looking slurs that were artifacts of going back and forth between transposing score and score in C.

I wrote some program notes, which I am seeing most competitions like to receive these days, and realized how much this piece actually means to me, and this time, I really hope it goes better than the last two competitions.


I know that many successful writers and other kinds of professions often get many rejections before someone takes a chance and believes in them. I also remember that there was some guy (Jia Jiang) that went out of his way to get rejected every day for 100 days to get over his fear of rejection. Brilliant, right? He wrote a book about it. I just watched his TED talk.

So I think it’s partly what he says, he just tried hard to make unreasonable requests or weird and unusual requests and then he recorded what happened on video. He wasn’t actually rejected every time, some people gave him what he asked for. For him, it sounds like he learned a lot about himself, and was able to not just start running as soon as someone said “no.”

I submitted my first work to a competition when I was still a student. It wasn’t a great piece of work, and I wrote it for the competition under a time crunch. I didn’t win, and I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. But I didn’t really look for any other competitions for many years. It was just a few months ago, after I had started working on the symphony, and I got word of a competition that was especially for female composers of symphonic music, that I started to write the last movement to suit the parameters of the competition.

I started keeping an eye out for other competitions, and it kept me to deadlines. Just keep writing, a little bit every day, and make sure it’s done by the deadline. The second competition I submitted to this fall (third in total) was a new song I wrote. I blogged about the journey. I didn’t know what I was doing at first, but I didn’t give up. Just one step at a time.

So today when I got word that I didn’t win the second composition competition I ever entered, I shouldn’t get too discouraged. I remember learning about the philosophies of Eastern religions, and the striving for nirvana, which has to do with a quietness, a freedom from the bonds of this earth. I like to think of it as letting go of the desire for quick success, which is attained by those who are able to not get sucked into the abyss of disappointment that is so easy to fall into when faced with rejection.

And I wrote some more lines on my string quartet today.