Some days Port Fairy’s Emily-Rose Matskows will practise the harp for up to six hours.
The gifted musician is back on her family’s farm just outside Port Fairy for a few months from the US, where she has been studying.
The 17-year-old has spent the past year at Interlochen Centre for the Arts in Michigan completing a year of secondary school, with a strong focus on music and harp.
Now Matskows has her heart set on returning to America to attend college and study the harp further.
As a six-year-old I said ‘what’s a harp?’Emily-Rose Matskows
She will apply for illustrious music schools including Juilliard, New England Conservatory, Mannes School of Music School and the Manhattan School of Music.
She began playing the harp when she was six, after her father John asked her if she wanted to learn on the way home from ballet lessons.
“As a six-year-old I said ‘what’s a harp?’ I thought he had said heart,” she recalled.
She travelled to Adelaide every three or four weeks for lessons. Matskows competed in competitions and eisteddfods across the south-west as a youngster.
She has also competed internationally in Spain and Italy, and has an upcoming competition in Hong Kong.
“I can express my emotions and feelings and things that have happened to me I can put into my music,” she said.
Matskows was attending Bayview College in Portland when she started looking into heading to America to continue her harp studies.
She applied and auditioned, via video, for two music schools, and was accepted to both, but chose Interlocken.
She had never been to America before.
“I was surrounded with people my age,” Matskows said.
“When you are at the school you practise so much and everyone around you is too. People come in and listen and I have a lot of friends. It’s not just musicians. We had theatre majors, film makers, singer-songwriters as well.”
A normal day at Interlocken consisted of academic subjects such as maths, English, history or algebra in the morning, before music theory, orchestra and band practise in the afternoon.
Matskows boarded at the school, and said she practised every day alone and with her class mates, sometimes for up to six hours.
During school holidays she stayed in the US, going with school friends to their family homes in California and Florida. She will head back to America in November for college auditions.