WHEN Hayley Parkes was 11, she told her teacher she wanted to compete in BBC Young Musician of the Year by the time she was 18.
Last month, millions of music fans tuned in to see her do just that, as she took part in the keyboard section final of the prestigious competition.
The 19-year-old piano supremo beat out competition from hundreds of other applicants to make it to that stage, but was pipped at the post to make it to the final.
But the Stapenhill born musician said she could not have been happier with the experience she had.
“As a competition, I don’t think it’s about winning. It’s a bit of a self-promotion bonanza, as it’s more about expressing yourself. You’re trying to come across well.
“You never come off stage and think it went perfectly, but I got good feedback and they liked how my personality came across on stage, which was good.
“I couldn’t believe I had been picked, though. Even on the day of the final I thought there must have been some mistake. I suppose it goes to show that if you really want something and you work hard at it, you will achieve it,” she added.
For the final, she performed three pieces of music in 16 minutes, before a panel of judges and television cameras, which she described as ‘bizarre’.
It was one of her tutors at the Royal Northern College of Music that suggested Hayley put herself forward for the competition, after years of honing her skills at Chetham’s Music School, in Manchester and at the college.
She said she became interested in classical music ‘by chance’, and she feels she now has an ambassadorial role for the genre.
“This is one way British kids can have access to classical music, as otherwise they probably won’t be exposed to it.
“It doesn’t matter to me if people understand the structure of the music, but if they were attracted to it, it should be encouraged,” she added.
Already, she has been asked to return to Edge Hill Primary School – her old school – to talk to pupils there about her experience.
“I will be happy if I get through to a handful of kids,” she said.