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#1970318 - 10/08/12 12:33 PM Interest for an amateur piano competition in San Diego, CA  
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Hello all,

I'm wondering if there's any interest for an amateur piano competition in San Diego, California, USA. I don't recall any on the west coast (except Seattle).

I would help Amateur Pianists San Diego, a local amateur pianists group, organize it for sometime in late 2013 or early 2014 (needless to say, I will not participate in the competition).

If you are interested, perhaps you can give some suggestions on what you like/dislike about other competitions and we'll try to incorporate those things into this one.

Some things I can think of are:

1) audio and video recording
2) internet streaming
3) practice rooms
4) transparent judging process
5) age limit
6) what defines 'amateur'
7) prelim, semifinal, final time limits
8) prizes and awards
9) workshops, master classes
10) welcome reception
11) winner's concert

I want this event to be something you guys want.

Thanks,

Gorden Cheng
(aka fuzzy8balls)

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#1970362 - 10/08/12 02:35 PM Re: Interest for an amateur piano competition in San Diego, CA [Re: fuzzy8balls]  
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LOVE IT!

Originally Posted by fuzzy8balls
1) audio and video recording

Great, highly desirable (at least audio) but not absolutely necessary.

Quote
2) internet streaming

Ditto

Quote
3) practice rooms

Close to necessary, and preferably with a decent allowance for each person.

Quote
4) transparent judging process

Nice but I don't think anyone expects that.
The closest thing to "transparent" is (I think) at the Cliburn, where quite a bit about the judging process is published in the program book.

Quote
5) age limit

IMO this is the very most important thing. IMO the minimum age should absolutely be no less than 25, and preferably no less than 28 or 30. If it's less, the whole atmosphere and nature of the event is changed because of the recent conservatory and piano major graduates who aren't necessarily really "amateurs" in any intended sense of the word.

BTW, in case "30" sounds too strict: The Cliburn had that as the minimum age the first time. They saw what it did, and immediately raised it to 35 for future runs. I was surprised to see that most of the other amateur competitions then used lower minimum ages than 30. (I know that for the Paris competition it's just 18, and it works OK because, heck, it's Paris.) smile

Quote
6) what defines 'amateur'

Tough one, and while probably this is the one that will get the most suggestions, IMO it's the one that needs the least suggestions, because whatever you come up with will be OK. All I would say is this thing that seems obvious but which hasn't always been followed: People who have been on the piano faculty of a conservatory any time recently shouldn't be considered eligible.

Quote
7) prelim, semifinal, final time limits

I've never had any complaints about anything that any competition has done.

Quote
8) prizes and awards

I think the only things that are needed are recognizing "1st place, 2nd place, 3rd place" (i.e. monetary awards aren't absolutely necessary, although of course almost all the events have them, and every event has at least some "goodies" for the winners). BTW I think it's a poor idea to rank the finalists beyond 3rd, because IMO all it does is make 1 or 2 of them feel they've done real bad.

(BTW that last thing is an example of using an adjective when it should have been an adverb.) ha

Quote
9) workshops, master classes

Nice but totally not necessary. IMO when there aren't any of these, the contestants have no trouble finding things to do with the extra time, including spending time together.

Quote
10) welcome reception

Wonderful and close to necessary.

Quote
11) winner's concert

Great but totally not necessary.

Quote
I want this event to be something you guys want.

And I'm thrilled that you're interested to look into this!

My wife and I have been hoping for some such event in California.

Last edited by Mark_C; 10/08/12 11:37 PM. Reason: clarifying about the suggested minimum age
#1970366 - 10/08/12 02:40 PM Re: Interest for an amateur piano competition in San Diego, CA [Re: fuzzy8balls]  
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While many don't like the idea of competitions, this idea may have some potential, I think, for those for whom competition preparation is a good incentive. It could, however, be a massive undertaking in arranging: overall management, various venues such as practice rooms and performance halls, judges, awards, etc. Where will all the money come from to finance such an endeavour and how long - in this economy - would it take to raise those funds to assure that the competition would take place?

The one thing that really jumps out at me and gives me pause is "age limit," depending upon whether that criterion would be "no younger than X" or "no older than Y." If it's the latter, it would be yet another discriminatory move, of which there are already many in piano-study-performance opportunities. Many a summer-school/piano camp that I've looked into over the years has an age limit of 32 to 35. Older amateurs object to such discrimination.

Edit : After reading Mark_C's post, I would be in favour of a minimum age limit to "eliminate" recent conservatory graduates who, in a sense, have just come through a competition-type of program. This would give older amateurs a slightly more level playing-field on which to display their talents.

Regards,

Last edited by BruceD; 10/08/12 02:50 PM. Reason: Re-thinking some thoughts ...

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#1970368 - 10/08/12 02:48 PM Re: Interest for an amateur piano competition in San Diego, CA [Re: fuzzy8balls]  
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Hi, Gorden!

Yes, I for one would be interested -- the San Diego area is beautiful! Actually, I have been surprised that there has been no previous attempts to launch an Amateur Piano Competition in California -- with perhaps the exception of Boston, it seems to be the most pianistically active area in the US. To address some of your specific questions:

1 Audio or video recording is not terribly important to me.
2 Ditto for internet streaming.
3 Availability to practice rooms IS essential, and also enough allotted time -- at least 1 hour, preferably 2.
4 Not terribly important to me -- bet you'll hear several opposing opinions there, though!
5 I prefer 30+ as a cut-off point.
6 Exactly as has been used -- "does not derive principal source of income from piano performance." More specifically, I don't care whether they obtained a piano performance degree or not in the past, as long as it IS in the past.
7 I like what Boston elected to do: 15 min for BOTH the preliminary and semi-final rounds; 25 - 30 min for the final round. 10 min, and even 12 min, is a tad too confining for the preliminary round.
8 I pretty much agree with the awards -- best Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Modern -- although I would in addition add best Contemporary AS WELL AS Modern. I would keep Most Imaginative Programming as well, although I'm obviously prejudiced in that regard (I've won that award 4 or 5 times in the past). I realize this is somewhat vague, but I'd also like to see an additional award for "Best performance of a piece of intermediate difficulty", or "most poetic performance", so that Amateurs with less than virtuoso chops have at least a shot at getting an award.
9 Not terribly important to me, unless there were an opportunity to perform chamber music.
10 In addition to the Welcoming reception, I would schedule at least 1 and probably 2 others.
11 Not terribly important to me, other than it would utterly frightening if I DID win!

Additional thoughts:

Since many of the Amateurs play from the score, I would make a point of providing page-turners (as opposed to having the pianists arrange for that themselves).

I like the idea of screening the Candidates, requiring a CD of 10 - 15 min or so, recorded within the last year or two. I realize that this is a delicate issue, particularly in a first venture, but I think you need to establish a basis of rejection if need be.

I definitely am attracted to the "two-tier" entry program that Berlin established, before its untimely demise. In that scenario, entrants could either opt for the full three rounds, OR prepare for only two rounds, with a couple of awards reserved specifically for that "lower" tier.

I think the number of SemiFinalists should be at least 1/3 to 1/2 of the entrants. I would also make every effort to provide a significant "spillover" event for those who did not make the SemiFinal round. Colorado Springs has by far done the best job in this regard: an all-day event at the local Library, for really anybody who wants to play, including people from the local community. I consider this important, largely because most entrants have spent a lot of time preparing the pieces, and it's nice to be able to present at least half of it.

Hopefully this will give you some food for thought. I'll be interested in seeing some other responses to this.

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#1970369 - 10/08/12 02:51 PM Re: Interest for an amateur piano competition in San Diego, CA [Re: Tim Adrianson]  
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I think the 2-tier thing is a turnoff, and a negative for the audience too because of how it dilutes the event.

Disclaimer: I've never been to one that does it, so I'm guessing. But it's not by accident that I haven't been to one. smile

#1970450 - 10/08/12 05:58 PM Re: Interest for an amateur piano competition in San Diego, CA [Re: fuzzy8balls]  
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Thanks for the responses so far guys. Anyone else, please feel free to comment because we want to put on a great event for YOU guys.

I've already emailed the link to this thread to the APSD organizers and we'll be checking and reviewing this thread for feedback.

Some of my thoughts:

I do agree that we need a clause in there to not allow students that are actively pursuing a degree in piano or related to music/performance, not anyone that has achieved a similar degree (on faculty, etc.) in the past few years, does not derive a majority of their income from performance/teaching, and is established in their career field other than music. This sounds a bit confusing and needs to be simplified but this is just off the top of my head.

And I also do agree we should have a public recital for contestants that do not advance to the semifinal or final rounds. When you work on a piece for so long, you really want to play it for an audience in a formal concert setting -- the process and experience of doing this is important, not the prizes.

I think good page turning is an art form in and of itself. In cases of complex scores with repeats and turning back and forth, we should have a page turner dedicated to the contestant and the page turning should be rehearsed.

What do you guys think of a chamber music in the final? Where the finalists play their solo programs but also one movement from a trio/quartet/quintet.

Thanks,

Gorden

#1970485 - 10/08/12 07:19 PM Re: Interest for an amateur piano competition in San Diego, CA [Re: fuzzy8balls]  
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Gorden,
It sounds great. San Diego is so close to Arizona. Even though I have a huge learning curve to even get into the contest, I love the idea. It gives me an aspiring goal. At least I meet minimum age requirement:)



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#1970496 - 10/08/12 07:49 PM Re: Interest for an amateur piano competition in San Diego, CA [Re: BruceD]  
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Originally Posted by BruceD
The one thing that really jumps out at me and gives me pause is "age limit," depending upon whether that criterion would be "no younger than X" or "no older than Y." If it's the latter, it would be yet another discriminatory move, of which there are already many in piano-study-performance opportunities. Many a summer-school/piano camp that I've looked into over the years has an age limit of 32 to 35. Older amateurs object to such discrimination.

No amateur competition has ever had a maximum age, and I doubt any ever will. The only one placing a limit on how old we can be is us.

(BTW, should have been "we.") ha

Originally Posted by fuzzy8balls
What do you guys think of a chamber music in the final? Where the finalists play their solo programs but also one movement from a trio/quartet/quintet.

I think it's a great idea and I'm surprised no amateur competition has done it yet. I'm guessing that the main reasons it hasn't been done are the expense of getting the other players and/or doubts about whether we amateurs would be up to doing a credible job on this (with limited rehearsals, etc.) and concern that it might not go well enough. I can imagine that unfortunately the latter might be a well-taken concern, but the only way to find out would be for someone to try it. smile

Last edited by Mark_C; 10/09/12 12:03 PM.
#1970529 - 10/08/12 09:01 PM Re: Interest for an amateur piano competition in San Diego, CA [Re: fuzzy8balls]  
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I'm just curious, but where do folks get the time to participate in these competitions? If one works full time, it's hard enough to find time to practice, let alone taking time off from work to participate. Airfare, hotel accommodations, meals...my goodness it must be expensive. How does one justify the monetary expense and loss of vacation time for a solitary, albeit fun, endeavor when one has family obligations?


Best regards,

Deborah
#1970537 - 10/08/12 09:19 PM Re: Interest for an amateur piano competition in San Diego, CA [Re: gooddog]  
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Originally Posted by gooddog
I'm just curious, but where do folks get the time to participate in these competitions? If one works full time, it's hard enough to find time to practice, let alone taking time off from work to participate....

That's our excuse when we sukk. grin

I never have enough time to prepare. Even when I set things up to be sure that I do, things happen and I don't. I imagine it's likewise for most of the others. We do the best we can.

Quote
Airfare, hotel accommodations, meals...my goodness it must be expensive. How does one justify the monetary expense and loss of vacation time for a solitary, albeit fun, endeavor when one has family obligations?

Good question!

We must just like it a lot. smile

But yes -- and even for some of us who go to a lot of them, it limits us from going to more.

#1970542 - 10/08/12 09:30 PM Re: Interest for an amateur piano competition in San Diego, CA [Re: gooddog]  
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I think people are supposed to have a job (if they are not very rich) because they are amateur competitions, so participants are not supposed to make a living through music... But of course you must love music very much in order to do this and probably also enjoy the competitions themselves without always wanting to win.



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#1970600 - 10/08/12 11:52 PM Re: Interest for an amateur piano competition in San Diego, CA [Re: Mark_C]  
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
I think the 2-tier thing is a turnoff, and a negative for the audience too because of how it dilutes the event.

Disclaimer: I've never been to one that does it, so I'm guessing. But it's not by accident that I haven't been to one. smile


I still do not understand how the 2-tier thing dilutes the competition. If the format is done seamlessly audiences will not even notice the difference. It will even enhance the excitement.

A seamless 2 tier competition can be accomplished as follow:

1. The competitors should be able to choose which tier they want to enter. All people who are eligible to enter both tiers can choose which tier they want to enter. However, people who are not eligible to enter the 2nd tier must enter the 1st tier only. The organizers need to decide the rule.

2. Say that the organizer accept 20 2nd tier people, and 40 1st tier people. In the semifinal, there should be allocated number of people from the second tier, because the semifinal is the final for the second tier people. Say only 6 of them can be in the semifinal. The other 14 semifinalists are for the 1st tier people. In most amateur competitions, only between 12 to 14 people are usually the solid semifinalist material. The other 6-8 are borderline and are very unlikely to advance to final. That is why, it will be fun for these 6 to 8 people to basically compete for a prize. At the end of the semifinal, the winner of this tier will be announced. This will bring more audiences, people want to see the winner of this tier, and more importantly 2nd tier people will finally get a reward for their hardwork.

3. Then the following day, more audiences will come to see the final for the first tier people.

To me, 2 tier format is an event with double excitement. The only downside of this format is that people who are not finalist material and insisting on competing against the 1st tier people will have less chance to get into semifinal, because only 12 to 14 people instead of 20 people will get into semifinal. If they compete against the second tier people, they may even win. But again, it is a personal choice. Some people like to be in the big league even though they do not belong there. Yet some have realistic expectation and accept that they are second tier amateur pianists. By using a 2 tier format, you allow both type of people to have fun without really change the flow of the competition. Format wise, it looks like one competition but actually two competitions. More importantly, utilizing 2 tier format will create a new style of amateur piano competition, not just like the typical amateur piano competitions that have been around for awhile.

Prize - I do not think people join the competitions to earn cash. Therefore, I believe that the 2nd tier participants will be happy to just receive a certificate that they place. In a regular competition, the 2nd tier participants will get nothing anyway, therefore, financial reward is not important for them.

Time limit - 10 to 12 min for prelim is sufficient, 15 -20 min for semifinal is good. I think Boston, Chicago, or Cliburn have good time requirements. For non finalist material people, it is hard to prepare a full hour program. That is why we see many of them are not able to prepare for their final program. In general, 2nd tier people's capacity is about 30 min program, they will fall apart beyond 30 min program.

My 2 cents.



#1970737 - 10/09/12 09:50 AM Re: Interest for an amateur piano competition in San Diego, CA [Re: fuzzy8balls]  
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This idea sounds great, but I'm in the Bay Area and a 10 hour drive would suck (especially in my noisy convertible) so I probably won't be signing up anytime soon frown

Last edited by trigalg693; 10/09/12 09:50 AM.
#1970744 - 10/09/12 10:06 AM Re: Interest for an amateur piano competition in San Diego, CA [Re: trigalg693]  
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Originally Posted by trigalg693
This idea sounds great, but I'm in the Bay Area and a 10 hour drive would suck (especially in my noisy convertible) so I probably won't be signing up anytime soon frown


I assumed that this is not a regional competition, it is an international competition. People will come from all over places.

#1970749 - 10/09/12 10:25 AM Re: Interest for an amateur piano competition in San Diego, CA [Re: fuzzy8balls]  
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Since I live in San Diego I would like to help out in any way in running an amateur competition. I hope this idea comes to fruition. There does seem to be a need for a west coast competition. San Diego is a perfect location!


Tavner
#1970787 - 10/09/12 12:04 PM Re: Interest for an amateur piano competition in San Diego, CA [Re: fuzzy8balls]  
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I am so glad to see this finally taking shape. To me the lower age limit of 30 is good. I think the 2 tier system would be good to try. It would mean we would not have to slave away over 3 rounds when there is very little chance of making the 3rd round. Lets face it..someone who is a senior senior cannot compete with a 30 year old powerhouse! Interesting observation by the judges of the London Competition however stating that "maturity" is invaluable in musicianship! Live streaming seems extravagant and nerve-wracking. Videos are a good remembrance and learning tool. Chamber music does not interest me at all. Practice facilities of course a must, an hour a day should be sufficient if one is prepared. A welcome reception.. very good! I think the 12 min preliminary is good, judges can tell in the first moments I think, then 15 min. and 25 min. The final dinner "Banquet" idea need not be so darned expensive! What about pizza or Mexican in an informal setting? the main thing is just being together. Time limits should be strictly adhered to! Going overtime throws the whole schedule off and is just plain rude. What about the judges passing anyone on to the semi round that they deem worthy rather than the set number? Of course a recent CD should be required and the listening committee should be sensible, not just accepting everyone. Yes, it is expensive and a challenge to be gone when there are responsibilities at home. That is why many of us that have been doing this for awhile decide where we want to go back to and where we never want to go back to again!


Musica 71
#1970789 - 10/09/12 12:09 PM Re: Interest for an amateur piano competition in San Diego, CA [Re: fuzzy8balls]  
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Oh...and one more VERY important thing, responsible judging! There have been some really bizarre examples of judging at times. I think in Chicago with 5 judges doing all rounds it was really fair and good, written feedback most appreciated, like getting a good lesson!


Musica 71
#1970799 - 10/09/12 12:29 PM Re: Interest for an amateur piano competition in San Diego, CA [Re: musica71]  
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Originally Posted by musica71
....Time limits should be strictly adhered to! Going overtime throws the whole schedule off and is just plain rude.....

My favorite example of this not being followed -- and oddly it was in the Boston competition which for the most part has been extremely well run but they dropped a huge ball on this: One person was going WAY overtime in the semi-finals -- I mean way way overtime. When she was about 7 minutes over the limit with a couple of pieces left to play, finally they stopped her. But that's not even the main thing about it. Get this: At the end of the competition, they gave her the "Creative Programming" award. ha
And in case anyone might wonder, I assure you that it wasn't with the slightest intent of humor or irony.


By the way, about the "two-tier" thing: People who aren't real familiar with the details about amateur competitions might be getting the impression from the above discussion that one of the basic things about the "Two-Tier" idea would be that you only play the first two rounds but not the finals. It isn't, not necessarily. The basic thing is just dividing the contestants and awards into two groups, with various possible ways of doing the dividing.

About the judging: My feeling has been that overall the judging in the amateur competitions has been excellent, although indeed there have been at least a few odd decisions here and there.

P.S. Let me suggest: Some people might know exactly 'who' I was referring to in the Boston event, and also might know which contestants were involved in some of the questionable decisions, but I think it would be good for us to resist naming any names on here.

Last edited by Mark_C; 10/09/12 01:35 PM.
#1970829 - 10/09/12 01:16 PM Re: Interest for an amateur piano competition in San Diego, CA [Re: fuzzy8balls]  
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Speaking as a non-competitor but an avid fan of the amateur competitions, I think the video streaming is a must. Friends and family will watch of course, but also people like me. Afterwards, upload to youtube (with the competitors permission). It will also increase the reputation of your competition.

Sam

#1970831 - 10/09/12 01:25 PM Re: Interest for an amateur piano competition in San Diego, CA [Re: Sam S]  
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A downside of streaming that maybe isn't being taken fully into account: These are amateur competitions, and not infrequently, for whatever reason including nerves, people don't play in a a way that they'd like to exhibit so widely, nor in a way that the organization might like to exhibit. It worked reasonably well for a competition like the Cliburn, where the bar for just getting in is pretty high. I'm not sure it would be a great idea for the competitions in general.

#1970838 - 10/09/12 01:26 PM Re: Interest for an amateur piano competition in San Diego, CA [Re: Mark_C]  
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Originally Posted by Mark_C

By the way, about the "two-tier" thing: People who aren't real familiar with the details about amateur competitions might be getting the impression from the above discussion that one of the basic things about the "Two-Tier" idea would be that you only play the first two rounds but not the finals. IT ISN'T, not necessarily; that's just an additional wrinkle in it that I guess was done by one of the competitions. The basic thing is just dividing the contestants and awards into two groups, with various possible ways of doing the dividing.


What is wrong with this? People who met the criteria to be in second tier have the freedom to move to the 1st tier if they want to. But the first tier people cannot join the lower tier.

Yes, the two tier format has only two stages (play twice), prelim and semifinal. The total of performance duration (prelim_12 min+ semi 15min) = 27 min max. It is doable for most people. People with big capacity or with big desire are free to compete in the more rigorous tier, 1st tier (nobody prevents them from competing against the best).

The two tier format requires no additional accommodations, other than two announcements of the winners. There will be the same number of judges from the beg to the end, same costs etc.

#1970843 - 10/09/12 01:37 PM Re: Interest for an amateur piano competition in San Diego, CA [Re: RonaldSteinway]  
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No, that's one type of 2-tier thing, not an inherent aspect.

If you repeat it again, please pardon if I don't answer again. grin

#1970844 - 10/09/12 01:41 PM Re: Interest for an amateur piano competition in San Diego, CA [Re: fuzzy8balls]  
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gooddog Offline
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Addressing the tier idea - I would like to see two tiers based on background like the Seattle amateur competition does. One tier is for amateurs who have a music degree and the other tier is for those who do not. IMO, many of the finalists of the last Van Cliburn were actually professionals, not amateurs. They may have had a day job but some were selling CD's and had a serious background in music education. "Amateur" should be clearly defined.


Best regards,

Deborah
#1970852 - 10/09/12 01:59 PM Re: Interest for an amateur piano competition in San Diego, CA [Re: gooddog]  
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RonaldSteinway Offline
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Originally Posted by gooddog
Addressing the tier idea - I would like to see two tiers based on background like the Seattle amateur competition does. One tier is for amateurs who have a music degree and the other tier is for those who do not. IMO, many of the finalists of the last Van Cliburn were actually professionals, not amateurs. They may have had a day job but some were selling CD's and had a serious background in music education. "Amateur" should be clearly defined.


I agree with your idea that education background is an objective way to measure. However, in reality, most people who competed in amateur competitions have degree in piano performance. Therefore, if we use the educational background only as the criteria, it will leave only, maybe, 15 people in the second tier pool. I think one of the criteria should be people with master piano performance cannot compete in the second tier. People who had pursued master degree in piano performance must have had the full intention to make money in playing piano. They are good enough to get into the program etc. Therefore, they should not be considered as amateur any longer.

In addition, people who had got into final in any amateur competitions should enter the 1st tier. They had shown that they have solid piano playing ability. Getting to final is such an accomplishment.

#1970869 - 10/09/12 02:38 PM Re: Interest for an amateur piano competition in San Diego, CA [Re: fuzzy8balls]  
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There are many incredible pianists that have no proper "degree" in music. AND many that do have a degree but are nowhere near concert pianist level. I think with the exception of a recent Masters or Doctorate, OR a position teaching at a University or Conservatory it is irrelevant. How they are playing currently is the main thing!


Musica 71
#1970871 - 10/09/12 02:41 PM Re: Interest for an amateur piano competition in San Diego, CA [Re: Mark_C]  
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Tim Adrianson Offline
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The only one I know of that attempted a two-tier was Berlin. There, they had about 60 - 65 entrants in the "Gold" division, and about 25 in the "Silver" (two-round) division -- that is to say, about 90 total. This aspect is critical, IMO -- if you're talking only 20 - 30 entrants total, it's really quite silly to have two tiers. However, I have noticed that, more recently, the number of entries in the Boston and Chicago regional competitions have been much higher than that -- around 55 - 65 -- and many of the "newcomers" are just dynamite pianists. That prompted me to suggest the "two-tier" idea -- the fact that you HAVE enough entrants in both "tiers" to create this option.
I had shared the Berlin idea with Numerian on this site, shortly following the Chicago competition this past year, and I thought he provided quite a good proposition to make an idea like this work. It's somewhat detailed, and so I'll only allude to it for those interested in plumbing the Archives, but it's similar to what Ronald Steinway has posted above.

Last edited by BB Player; 10/11/12 03:33 PM. Reason: edited per posters request
#1970887 - 10/09/12 03:42 PM Re: Interest for an amateur piano competition in San Diego, CA [Re: gooddog]  
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I think the key is "make a living" rather than "make money" (I am not sure though). They probably won't make a living from selling CDs. I assume that some of them probably have private students. I am not sure how this would be judged in case they do make a living from private students. Because in itself I don't think that having private students (particularly at a low or intermediate level) would make a teacher really a professional pianist?



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#1971180 - 10/10/12 05:26 AM Re: Interest for an amateur piano competition in San Diego, CA [Re: fuzzy8balls]  
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Not necessarily going to participate even assuming it is an international competition. However, a few thoughts on things which have not been mentioned or items which I feel I can comment on:

* Practice times and performance order in each round: Pre-defined as soon as one advances to next round is more efficient than having to line up to sign up for time slots after finding out that you still have to play/practice the next day.

* Last performance of the day not being too late at night is nice. Even after waiting 1-2 hours for results after each round (and then possibly have to sign up for practice time next day etc), it is still not too late at night. Those who advance need to sleep and then wake up next day to practice/perform.

* Agree that public performance opportunities for pianists who do not advance is important and welcomed.

* Try out on the actual performance piano: What are the usual arrangements in various competitions? Try out 5-10 min before each round? or only once at the beginning before prelims and no more? Would be nice to have 5-10min before each round, particularly beneficial for folks who usually only practice on an electronic piano (Disclaimer: not me, but I know a few people who practice on electronic pianos.)

* Agree supplying page turners and rehearse or at least a discussion with the page turner prior to performance is important. Having to try one a friendly pianist to do it on the fly is tough. The person being asked, if not experienced in page-turning, would worry about stuffing it up and affecting the performance (that's how i feel when I get asked to page turn, particularly for a work which I am not familiar with).

* Chamber music finals: Love it, but I can imagine not everyone would be comfortable/happy about having it as a mandatory finals requirement. If mandatory, query what is an appropriate weighting of the solo and chamber performance in the final judgment. I assume the organiser would provide the other instrumentalists in a trio/quartet. Assuming the requirement is one movement from a Trio/Quartet/etc, personally I feel 1x 1 to 1.5 hour rehearsal is enough for me. Would be demanding to require the performance of a whole work. Repertoire selection is question mark: select from a prescribed list (as opposed to free choice) is probably easier for the purpose of arranging other instrumentalists. I feel Duo/Trios are more accessible to amateurs than quartet/quintets unless the pianist regularly plays with a chamber group.

Closing comment for the time being: West coast is soooooo much closer to fly to than east coast/Europe. So if you do arrange an event as proposed, it would be very appealing to me some time down the track lol!

#1971294 - 10/10/12 11:14 AM Re: Interest for an amateur piano competition in San Diego, CA [Re: Jibbers]  
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Great post, Jibbers!

About this one thing on the chamber music portion that they're thinking of having:

Originally Posted by Jibbers
....query what is an appropriate weighting of the solo and chamber performance in the final judgment....

I think it would be better to leave each judge completely free on that, because of the more general consideration that I think it's best not to dictate to them how much weighting should be given to anything. I think it's best to let each judge take anything into account in whatever weightings they see fit.

IMO the absolute worst is the competitions (very few, fortunately -- maybe only 1-2) that have done the "scoring" (actually, literal scoring) by having the judges give scorings in individual categories like "technique," "musicianship," "creativity," "stage presence" with each category having a specified number of points. That sounds like high school. The best are the competitions like the Cliburn that have each judge give a single overall score for each round, taking into account whatever they wish; or just give "yes" votes on whom they want to advance without anything more specific.

For example, on the chamber music, under such an unrestrictive system, I can well imagine judges almost completely discounting the chamber music for a given candidate for the reason you said, or, on the other hand, giving it a very high weighting for someone who did extraordinarily well.

#1971776 - 10/11/12 10:22 AM Re: Interest for an amateur piano competition in San Diego, CA [Re: Tim Adrianson]  
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Originally Posted by Tim Adrianson
The only one I know of that attempted a two-tier was Berlin. There, they had about 60 - 65 entrants in the "Gold" division, and about 25 in the "Silver" (two-round) division -- that is to say, about 90 total. This aspect is critical, IMO -- if you're talking only 20 - 30 entrants total, it's really quite silly to have two tiers. However, I have noticed that, more recently, the number of entries in the Boston and Chicago regional competitions have been much higher than that -- around 55 - 65 -- and many of the "newcomers" are just dynamite pianists. That prompted me to suggest the "two-tier" idea -- the fact that you HAVE enough entrants in both "tiers" to create this option.
I had shared the Berlin idea with Numerian on this site, shortly following the Chicago competition this past year, and I thought he provided quite a good proposition to make an idea like this work. It's somewhat detailed, and so I'll only allude to it for those interested in plumbing the Archives, but it's similar to what Ronald Steinway has posted above.

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