Mary-Ellen’s Experience – The Sydney Piano Lovers’ Competition

Thinking of applying for The Sydney Piano Lovers’ Competition? We asked Mary-Ellen Wallace, a lawyer in Regional NSW, about her experience in 2020.

The Sydney Piano Lovers’ Competition 

Why did you apply for The Sydney Piano Lovers’ Competition in 2020?  

My piano teacher encouraged me to apply, so we had something to work towards.   I was also attracted to the concept of a competition designed for non-professional pianists who still practice and play at a high standard, just for the love of it.   The competition’s association with the Sydney International Piano Competition and the opportunity to get feedback from internationally renowned judges was also a very significant factor. 

What was it like preparing for the competition?

It was a little bit like preparing for a mini-piano exam, except you can choose your favourite pieces and no scales!   I had to do a lot of practice and learn my pieces thoroughly, and I was very nervous when recording my entry.  However I really enjoyed the challenge and it was great to have something to work towards.   

What is your profession? Have you always had a passion for piano?

I am a lawyer, however I also see myself as a pianist.   I started learning piano when I was 9 and it has always been a big part of my life.   I wasn’t able to play piano for many years when life was hectic with family and work, but I really missed it.  When things settled down I started playing and having lessons again and I cannot imagine my life now without piano.  

Did you play the piano often previous to the competition?

I played the piano a lot before the competition, however as a non-professional it can be difficult to keep up the practice without a reason to.  Applying for the competition gives me an excuse to choose a few beautiful pieces and work hard on polishing them up.   I also now record and listen to myself play as I learn a piece, which I didn’t do before the competition.  I also really value the feedback I received from the judges which I feel has improved my playing.  I see the competition as a wonderful opportunity to keep learning and playing beautiful music and to keep improving. 

Would you recommend for others to apply for the next edition of the competition? Why/why not?

Absolutely Yes – its a great excuse to polish up those half learned favourite pieces and be part of The Sydney, just for the love of it.