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Tips & Tricks: 3 Reasons that I Like Competitive Music Festivals

April is music festival month here in New Brunswick. Actually, I believe that the competitions run over into May, but the local level music competitions are held in April. I must admit that I hated music festivals as a child. I dislike the competitive nature of it, although I was very lucky and went through music festivals with a great group of musicians who were all friends. Having said that I don’t like music festivals, there are good aspects to them, and some of my students do chose to participate. Here are my top three reasons for actually liking competitive music festivals:

  1. Having a goal: A lot of times we learn better when there is a goal in mind. Playing at church, playing for a family get-together, an end-of-year recital, or a music festival. It helps to have a timeline for learning the music and that bit of pressure to make sure that you work even when you might prefer to take some time off.
  2. Adjudication: I love that my students get comments from someone other than me when they perform at a music festival. This can be good in three different ways:
    • The adjudicator may tell my student exactly the same thing I have been telling him/her for months. Maybe hearing it from someone else will convince my student to take the instruction. It seems to me that sometimes when you hear something from the same person over and over again that you start filtering it out.
    • The adjudicator has a different way of explaining something that may make more sense to my student. Sometimes you just need a different perspective on whatever problem it is that you have been having. The adjudicator may be able to provide an alternate solution as well.
    • Maybe the adjudicator will pick up on something that I have missed completely.
  3. Seeing your peers perform: It is nice to see other people your age and your level perform. Watching your peers perform can give you insight into what you are doing right or wrong, it can give you insight into your strengths and weaknesses, and it can also provide inspiration. It is one thing to see your teacher play something well, but it is another to see a child of your own age perform a piece well.

So, if you are entering a competition, please remember that whether you win or lose is based on one person’s opinion of how you played on that one day. Remember to take all of the good aspects of the competition, and use them to improve your playing. Have fun!

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