THEY walked out of the auditorium with medals clinking, satin costumes swishing and a song in their hearts.
These were the contestants of this year's vocal solo section 10 years and under at the Redland Eisteddfod at Redland Performing Arts Centre in Cleveland.
For Maddison Ashley, 10, of Mount Cotton, it was her second time and so the seasoned hand already had an inkling of the calibre of her competition.
There were smiles and waves and quizzical glances as the pint-sized potential divas sized each other up. This year's adjudicator Dimitri Kopanakis had good things to say. He sent them home with encouragement and highly commended awards and urged them to keep going.
He praised the costume skills of the parents as the children entered the stage as mermaids or swans or little orphan Annie.
He taught them how to walk with confidence and "own the stage". He taught them that performance was where it counted and the occasional slip was alright.
He smiled and encouraged. His scribe scribbled furiously.
The Redlands Eisteddfod is a team effort, under the presidential hand of Duchesne Barry. And while the contestants hone their skills with vocal coaches, parents and CDs, it is too easy to forget the volunteer at the door, or at the cafeteria, on the piano or doing the announcing.
"We all do our bit. There's someone handling the money, the awards, collating the music. We just knuckle down and do it. It's not about us. It's about encouraging young people of all standards," Duchesne said.
"We see these kids keep coming back each year with that bit more confidence and self assurance on stage. It's about the music, the joy of music, rather than the battle to the winning line."
Maddison said she was better than last year.
"I've had a year to practice. I like performing, because it builds confidence. But my favourite part is getting the report so I can see what the judge liked and what I can improve on," Maddison said.
"This time, he said I needed to carry out my strongness (volume). I agree with that."
Maddison is no stranger to the dance stage (since age three) and said she believed using steps and a routine while singing, helped her remember the words.
"It also makes it more fun. I think the kids who stand still have more trouble. Those kids might freak out," she said.
Maddison's mother Chequita said she believed eisteddfods gave performers performance opportunity and unbiased critique.
"It's all very well taking advice from someone who loves them, but it's good for them to hear they are good enough from someone out of the picture," she said.
"We get high profile adjudicators who are often more experienced than the teachers and they can offer their opinions," Duchesne said.
Chequita said that while dancing eisteddfods had helped Maddison, she said singing was quite different.
Laminta Brengman-Harvey, of Thornlands, performed four songs in this year's eisteddfod, leaving with a highly commended for Cradle Song (classical), third place medal for Danny Boy (folk), encouragement award for Part of Your World (music theatre) and an encouraging report for Bare Necessities (restricted).
The medal,s however, are just the icing on the cake, with most contestants using the eisteddfod as an opportunity to perform and improve, ironing out awkward performance kinks early. As one parent said: "How do professional performers start?"
Laminta's mother Lindie knows all about being on stage, having entered 30 eisteddfod items in dance, singing and speech and drama as a teenager.
"I totally appreciate what Minty is going through. You never know what's going to happen when you get there. But I don't believe in expecting your children to do the same as you do. Minty is doing this because she wants to do it and this confidence is something I never had," Lindie said.
"She loves being up there performing for people. She's not so excited about the constant practice. It's good for her. She makes decisions on the hop. I get to see her self confidence and the spontaneity to organise things for herself that she feels comfortable with.
"She did well. I am really proud of her and very impressed. This is one of those moments when you realise your child is separate from you and has their own personality ? their own ability. And you have to have faith in that."
For her mother, it is a second generation of performers.
"I used to look at mum and she would be white. I think that's why I was over confident to make her feel better. Mum probably hated me doing all this," Lindie said.
Duschene said the Redlands Eisteddfod, now in its 12th year, continued to attract a high calibre of performer in a competition well regarded as professional and pleasant.
"We are seeing kids come through who are now major performers on an international platform. It's mind blowing," she said.