October's themed month explores the world of international competitions through the eyes of some finalists of top competitions around the world. We continue our tips series with Jennifer Pike, winner of the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition in 2002, aged only 12.

Jennifer Pike © Tom Barnes
Jennifer Pike
© Tom Barnes

Did taking part in competitions boost your career? How?

I am indebted to the BBC Young Musician competition, as it acted as a real stepping stone in my career. It provided me with a range of tools to prepare for life as a solo violinist. Performing with Sir Andrew Davis and the BBC Symphony was a real privilege. The Menuhin competition (before the BBC Young Musician) also helped me by providing a terrific platform and the chance to perform to a panel of great musicians.

Are there some important factors to consider when choosing the right competition to enter?

Deciding whether or not to enter a competition will always depend on the individual. One must always regard it as an experience – and remember that there is nothing to lose! They are excellent for learning specific programmes.

What are the ingredients of a good programme?

Here you are of course expected to follow the guidelines, but be sure to have a balanced, varied programme that showcases a range of moods and contrasting tempi.

What is the key to capitalising on competition success?

To be honest, there is no real key to capitalizing on success – success is no easy ride and therefore you should always be led on by your own motivation and musical instincts.

Are competitions a good thing?

Competitions are generally a good thing, but it always depends on the individual having a healthy outlook.

What are your top three competition tips?

- have enough rest before the performance

- work on your breathing

- ensure you have something to look forward to afterwards!