Confidence by Marisa Randall
I let out a shaky breath, swaying back and forth as I focused on the music piece before
me. I was trying to calm my nerves and the gut-wrenching feeling in my stomach.
It was the spring of 2018, mid-March. I was in Neenah, Wisconsin at the District Solo
Ensemble Festival for my first ever ‘real’ performance. I was going to be playing a violin solo in
front of a judge and who will grade me on both presentation and my skills as a musician.
I had very little time before I had to be on the other side of Neenah High School to be
judged. But, I was using every opportunity to practice. I let out a groan of frustration as I
screwed up for the fifth time and practically tossed my instrument into the case. My Aunt
looked up from her phone and stared at me.
“Calm down and breath, you're going to do great,” she told me. I frowned crossed my
arms and stared at her, leaning back against the school's stage.
“I keep screwing up on this part, and I can’t understand why I am screwing up when I
used to be able to do it!”
“You're just nervous.”
“I know that I’m nervous, I’ve never done this before.” I sighed, picking up the Festivals
requirement sheet. I read it over to calm myself. My eyes stopped on one of the requirements.
‘The judges and your music sheet must have their measures numbered.’ I suddenly felt
panicked. I spun on my heels and picked up the music sheet, looking it over. I realized that the
judge's copy of the music had not been pre-numbered like everyone else's copy had been.
“Oh my gosh, no!”I panicked, picking up a pencil from the teacher's supply box and
hunched over the stage to number the measures.
“What’s wrong?” my aunt asked. I kept my gaze on the music sheet.
“The judge's copy wasn’t numbered like everyone else’s was!”
“I’m sure it won’t matter.”
“It does matter, it says in the requirements that the judge’s music copy has to have the
measures numbered just like my music and the judge's copy wasn't numbered." I quickly
started numbering the measures, pausing once in a while to read it over and fix mistakes.
“What time is it?” I asked my aunt, focusing on numbering the music.
“You have three minutes until you have to be there.” I stood straight grabbing my music,
the pencil, and my instrument.
“I have to go!” I yelled, running out of the gym. I sprinted down the hallway, weaving in
and out of the crowd of people and limping from my flats rubbing the back of my heels. I turned
the corner and ran down the corridor, rounding another corner and stopping in front of the
I gasped for air and waved at my red face. The woman stood outside of the room
staring at me in shock. She was holding a clipboard with a list of names of the people who had
already been judged or still hadn't been judged yet.
“Am I late?” I asked her through ragged breaths. My lungs were burning.
“Nope, your right on time, one other girl just went in to be judged, you have a few
minutes.” She told me. I let out a sigh and waved my face, standing straight and taking a drink
from the bubbler next to the room. I pulled away from the bubbler and stared at the woman.
“Good, that gives me some time to finishing numbering my measures.” I leaned against
the wall and finished numbering the music measures. I felt relieved. I could hear clapping in
the closed door. I looked up as the woman waved me in. I stood in the corner, handing the
woman the judges copy of the music.
The woman walked down to the judge and handed him the judges copy. I walked down
the stairs and over to the chair and set my music folder down on the stand.
“So Marisa is next, alright then,” the judge said as the women left. “So you’ll be playing
the violin for me today you're the last one before lunch, you can sit down and get started.”
I sat in the chair and opened my folder, pulling out my solo ensemble piece. I looked up
at the judge.
“Do I just introduce myself, say what song I’m playing and then start playing?”
“Yep, ”The judge replied, smiling at me. I took a breath to calm my nerves that seemed
to have disappeared.
“My name is Marisa Randall, I’m a junior and violinist from Oshkosh West High School,
and I will be performing ‘Gavotte‘ by P. Martini .”I lifted my violin and set it under my chin and
lifted my bow up. I took a breath, relaxing before I started playing. I could feel a nervous feeling
from within my stomach, but I kept my eyes on the music.
My bow slipped a little causing me to play the wrong note. I ignored it and kept going. I
had forgotten all about my nerves and that I was being judged. I slowed my bow to a stop
when the song ended and lowered my bow.
"Nice job," he told me, writing down on a sheet. "I don't have anything else to say other
than it was great." I nodded with a smile on my face. I stood and picked up my music folder. I
walked up to the judge and took the music from his hand.
“Thank you,” I thanked him and walked away, leaving the room with my head held high
and a big smile on my face. I felt like a huge weight had been taken off of me.
I am generally a socially awkward person. I hate to perform or do speeches by myself in
front of people. But to be able to perform in front of a judge and do as good as I did felt
amazing. I felt confident in myself and my abilities as a musician which is something I hadn’t
felt in a long time. I still have that confidence about myself now. That confidence I had back
then is now pushing me to improve myself and try and battle against my social anxiety by
putting myself more out there.