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One of the great things about this country is the thriving amateur music scene. We have a plethora of choirs, orchestras and dramatic groups that have been founded base upon the rich pickings of talented people who want to perform for fun. They are also a great training ground for professional musicians and bring great joy to young and old alike.

The British and International Federation of Festivals are an umbrella body for competitive festivals of performing arts across the UK and further afield. Singers, instrumentalists, actors and dancers come together to compete locally and nationally in their chosen field. The standard varies from the complete novice to the emerging professionals. In the UK alone there are almost 300 festivals open to everyone from the very young to the more mature performer. They are a concert platform where you can have the chance to get feedback by an adjudicator and to hear the work of others at a similar level.

The festivals played a massive part in my musical education. From the age of 8, I competed in dance, singing and drama. They were great for building confidence, performing as a soloist, testing exam pieces and meeting like minded people. It was obvious that singing was my forte but the dance and drama almost certainly have added to my singing career. My first festival was Fleetwood where I did the 9 years and under singing and I did a song called ‘Rat a tat tat’. I won that class and from that moment on I never stopped singing. I competed right up until I went to music college and it was the best training ground that I could have hoped for.

Just recently I went to Richmond upon Thames Festival and I was astounded at the level of singing. The children were confident, well prepared and obviously really enjoying what can be a nerve wrecking experience. So if you have a child who is thinking of a performing career or just loves to perform for fun then this is the perfect opportunity for them. I recommend them to teachers who are looking for performance platforms for their pupils or adults who want to fulfil a lifetime ambition of performing in front of an audience.

Long may they continue.