Guelph violinist Bridget Walsh gave herself a challenge to practice for 1,000 days starting Jan. 1, 2020. Fast forward, and the musician is close to completing that challenge on Oct. 2.
"I can't believe it's already been 1,000 days," said Walsh on day 989 of the challenge. "There definitely needs to be champagne on day 1000."
To celebrate, Walsh is planning a small concert for family and friends next month as a 'thank you' for all their support. Currently, Walsh's parents are creating a 'countdown' to the 1000th day of practice, which will sit out on their front lawn on Dufferin Street.
Walsh said Oct. 2 is going to be a 'day full of music' as she will be performing in the Guelph Symphony Orchestra's first concert of the season.
“It’s going to be such a special concert because my very first day of this challenge, January 1, 2020, was also a Guelph Symphony concert, so before COVID and everything the first day was a symphony concert, and the last day is going to be as well, so it's going to be awesome," said Walsh, adding she also has practice with the Guelph Concert Band.
Walsh said she decided to try practicing 1,000 days after completing a previous challenge. She tracked her progress through social media and ended up creating an online community. Some of Walsh's friends have even started their own challenges as a result.
“I’ll get feedback, I'll get ideas, and I get requests for different things, and I've met so many people on there," said Walsh. "I really do think having a network and a community has really encouraged me to set a good example and to share my ideas."
During the challenge, the community also rallied around Walsh, including the Guelph Guild of Storytellers. Walsh performed three times in events run by the guild and said they have been great supporters of the challenge.
“It was just special every single time and I believe we celebrated day 950 together, which was awesome,” said Walsh.
“I do have a very large community that's excited for me to reach my goal, and that’s also just super motivating to get to the end.”
The challenge also helped Walsh to prepare for the Royal Conservatory of Music Associate Diploma (ARCT) Performer. On Friday, Walsh will go through an hour-long exam where she will perform three songs with a piano and three songs on her own.
“It’s basically just a performance, because in the lower levels, you do all you technical stuff and your ear training and your skills, but because this one is the highest level, you just have to give a performance, which is nice," she said.
Now attending university, Walsh hopes to use what she learned from music as she pursues a degree in neuroscience at the University of Guelph.
"This challenge has not only taught me about music, it has taught me more about myself and so many things, like dedication, perseverance and resilience and, you know, self confidence."
Walsh plans to continue posting with the account she made for the challenge, but said she will take a break from practicing every day.
"It's going to feel so weird not to practice every day," said Walsh. "I know I have to stop at day 1,001. If I keep going, I know I won't stop."