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It was definitely a mixed feeling when my name was announced as the winner of the first prize in MusiQuest 2017. I got really anxious when my good friend and duet partner Candice’s name was announced for the second prize. Knowing how good she is, I was wondering if I missed yet another opportunity to win a prize at this MusiQuest and would have to be happy with an Adjudicator Special Mention. I really wanted to win one prize in any category as I thought I performed well this time around. And then there it was – my name was mentioned! I could not believe my ears when my name was announced as the grand prize winner. I covered my face with my hands to control my emotions and ran to the podium.

My musical journey started when I was five and half. I would hear my father practise piano and just loved the sound of the piano keys. I would doodle around, making up my own little tunes when my dad was not around. Recognising my interest, my parents sent me to Academy of Music to study under Oriana Rodrigues.

It was a slow road at first! My father inspired me with the story of the bamboo tree that takes a long time to grow initially, putting its roots deep down into the ground and then reaching the sky. This story motivated me and I tried my best not to compare myself with anyone else from that point on. It really helped me in focusing on my own playing and learning.

I participated in the 2013 and 2015 editions of MusiQuest in the Preliminary and Junior divisions respectively. But I did not excel enough. When I was transferred to Roxana Anklesaria’s class, I realised that I was missing my potential as I lacked practice, discipline and efficiency and was not expressing myself enough musically. She also challenged me with more inspiring repertoire and I do love challenges! These were indeed the stepping stones to my winning that all important MusiQuest prize.

I began working on my MusiQuest repertoire around March 2017. I was given absolutely amazing repertoire choices by my teacher. I was just so inspired and motivated and long hours of practising these pieces never tired me. I was ready to do extra work on my technique to address the technical challenges of these pieces. It really helped.

As MusiQuest came closer, I practised more and more and began realising that I was sounding better as I spent more time with the repertoire. I would discover new ideas that I could use in the pieces. Every time I played the piece, we found areas that didn’t sound that great. My dad was my practice mentor and even though he was travelling a lot, prior to the MusiQuest, we worked on FaceTime and during weekends. We changed and reworked every part of the pieces until we were satisfied and the ideas were imprinted in my mind. As the music started getting close to the standards of MusiQuest, I was excited to go and enjoy playing the pieces in front of the adjudicators.

MusiQuest was fun. I met many students and parents for the first time. I played in various categories (Concert Group, Concerto, Popular Music and Jazz, Romantic and Post Romantic). Performances in each class were followed by a detailed written adjudication and the adjudicator, Phyllis Lehrer, working on the piece at the piano. This was such valuable feedback and I learned so much at the adjudicator workshops. After five gruelling days, we gathered to hear the inspiring performances of the adjudicators. What a learning experience this was! And then that eagerly awaited moment – the prize winner announcement. I could not contain my joy and pride and most importantly making my parents and teachers so proud of me.

I was extra motivated when I knew that the prize was a Kawai piano and a scholarship to the International Institute of Young Musicians camp in Kansas USA, for the Intermediate division.

The accolades and pride of my teacher, my family and friends and the adjudicators and most importantly, being amidst so many excellent performers is a privilege that I’ll cherish for life. Thank you MusiQuest for initiating me to a beautiful musical Journey!