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Re: Competition? [Re: claiz] #2675725
09/16/17 06:49 PM
09/16/17 06:49 PM
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Orange County, CA
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I have another observation about local piano competitions:

Many of these festivals are run like a factory. 50 people walk in, play, and get out. There's hardly any time for people to mingle with each other. When people are waiting outside before the category, they are told to keep quiet so they don't disturb the category going on.

There was one competition in which the students wait while the judges deliberate (for what seems like an hour!!). There were some friendly banter going on between students and parents and teachers, but all was destroyed by the jaw-dropping results.


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Re: Competition? [Re: claiz] #2675759
09/16/17 11:01 PM
09/16/17 11:01 PM
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Yuck.


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Re: Competition? [Re: malkin] #2675794
09/17/17 04:40 AM
09/17/17 04:40 AM
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Orange County, CA
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Originally Posted by malkin
Yuck.

I assume you're reacting to my "factory" comment?

Well, when you live in an area where there are TONS of piano students and OODLES of piano teachers, this is what you get. You also get a few idiots like me who volunteer to do the work for 40 other teachers, some of whom can't be bothered to help during the festival because they teach all day on Saturday. Or they can help ONLY between 3 pm and 4 pm, because that's when they have a break between students.

We also have teachers who act as organizers of competitions so that their own students can win. It's so blatantly obvious. I steer clear of those.

We also have semi-teachers who act as organizers of competitions so they can charge more than $50 a pop and make lots of $$$. I steer clear of those, too.


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Re: Competition? [Re: claiz] #2675803
09/17/17 06:40 AM
09/17/17 06:40 AM
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Unless the child is begging to be allowed to compete ... it's a huge NO.

And the difference between first, second or third place is so arbitrary, that it can crush a student confronted by a parent who wants to know why their child "didn't get first place". It happened to me once in my teenage years. I was so infuriated that I entered the next season's competitions secretly ... lying to my parents about it. One of my exceedingly rare lies. They found out ... and apparently got the point. They never asked me again when I explained that I planned to tell them only if I WON ... sparing them their unhappiness if I didn't.

Lesson learned. All around. I wanted to compete but was mature enough even at that young age to realize that the difference between the top three was neglible. There were three of us who constantly topped the competitions. Eventually all three of us went to Juilliard. We survived those early competitions. But many do not.

Make sure the child wants to compete .... without ANY adult pressure to do so, It's hard enough as it is to survive those dog fights.

Re: Competition? [Re: claiz] #2675839
09/17/17 11:53 AM
09/17/17 11:53 AM
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Quote
We also have teachers who act as organizers of competitions so that their own students can win. It's so blatantly obvious. I steer clear of those.


... because you're a sensible guy! smile

There are lots of reputable "competitions" and events that are not organized by teachers. This is one that I ran for two years ...

Grants-in-aid auditions

We usually gave out 6K to 8K per year in grant money to pay for music-related expenses like lessons, and we spread the money around so that 1/4 to 1/3 of the students got something if their body of work met good standards. It's organized by a music club, not teachers, and the judges are professionals who get paid a decent honorarium for their day's work. Is judging perfect? Of course not. If a student is crushed because they don't "win," then that's the kind of ego that should probably avoid judged events altogether. If the parents or teachers are outraged and livid, then that too is probably the kind of ego that should avoid judged events where the outcome isn't measured by the clock or by the number of right or wrong answers.

Here's another well run event in our area:

ODU classical period piano competition

This one is run by a university music school. The preliminary round is judged by the piano faculty, and the final round is judged by a guest artist. That's then followed by a master class. It's a multi-day event that draws students from at least three states (MD, VA, NC), and from all age groups (elementary up).

Here's a multi-round event sponsored by a private group (Lions Clubs).

Lions Clubs competition

This is a statewide (Virginia) event that has local, regional, and state levels. Decent monetary amounts to students who do well. A very friendly event. Was the judging great? Well, not always, in my opinion ... crazy . But the winners were always very good. And the non-winners got a heartfelt pat on the back and another performance opportunity.

None of these events are run (or mis-run) by local teachers to serve private agendas.

Want another one? Here's a local mostly volunteer orchestra that sponsors a concerto .... competition.

YRSO concerto competition

Judged by members of the orchestra. My son won this many years ago at age 12 and got to play a little Haydn movement with them. The LA Symphony? Not!!! Who cares! It was a fabulous experience.

The Richmond Symphony also sponsors a concerto competition:

RSOL competition

This one is a bit more high-powered than the YRSO.

Many local churches sponsor scholarship events. Again, not run by piano teachers.

Is this stuff for everybody? No, of course not. Should a reluctant student be pushed into this kind of event. No, of course not. Should a nine year old be expected to demonstrate their independence and drive by researching all this stuff on their own? Should they have to beg to do this, never having done it before, in order to convince their teachers or parents that they should be allowed? C'mon. Adults generally have to suggest it. Students often have to try it out. But there are pretty clear markers in personality that can guide parents and teachers about when (or whether) to offer "competitive" events as an option for a student. And parents and teachers are responsible for setting the expectations and framing the experience for the student.

Re: Competition? [Re: claiz] #2675962
09/18/17 12:42 AM
09/18/17 12:42 AM
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California
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I wonder why you are weary that she is not good enough? Is it your own feeling of anxiety or is it substantiated? My parents never knew if I played well enough. They usually asked me after :P

I think it really depends on the child, the teacher, the parent, the competition, the general.. atmosphere? .. the expectations and framing for sure. For me, my teacher was stricter than the competition, so just her encouragement afterwards (I'm so proud of you!) regardless of how poorly I performed or felt I performed, meant a lot. We never talked about placing or anything like that prior to the competition, it was always about the music itself. My parents.. well they didn't play piano, so I didn't care what they thought :P

I was a pretty shy kid and I did participate in competitions because it was simply what was done. Usually, I did better than I thought. They were always friendly, nothing cut-throat, and to me, didn't differ much from recitals (I went up to the stage, I played, I bowed, I went down the stage..yep, about the same..). I would look through the students for people I knew, and we would sit together and talk about how nervous we were. My teacher had group lessons in our studio, so I knew some of the other kids. Also our city is not that huge, so the piano students who typically participate in these kind of events often know a few of the others, or the parents know each other, or something. One time, I messed up (quite badly, in my opinion), but I still placed first and got a little cash! Wait, you mean I can get cash for playing the piano? As a kid, that was exciting. I never really thought about placing in these types of things. It was just.. what you did as a piano student. The placing was just a bonus. It always seemed to me that the judges saw something in my playing that I did not. One time, I made it to the state competition! And at the state competition, after driving all day, I had horrible horrible memory lapses on almost every single one of my pieces! And I couldn't recover from them. I didn't feel prepared for that one. That was pretty embarrassing, but my teacher never said anything about it. (I'm guessing she must have found out by the judge's remarks .. which I never saw.) Hopefully your daughter's teacher will know if she is prepared or not and be able to pull her out if she is not. Of course you could always bring this concern up with the teacher to ensure that is a possibility.


~piano teacher in training~
Re: Competition? [Re: claiz] #2676023
09/18/17 10:46 AM
09/18/17 10:46 AM
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Thanks all for the input - I will have a chat with her teacher and ask more about the competition she has in mind. I agree competition can be a good thing, although I do want to manage the pressure she has from piano.

Her teacher is very good (former conservatory teacher) but also has very high expectation - she is planning to start my daughter on a Liszt Etude (S136 no.1) soon. I don't play piano myself (am a Trombone player) but looking at the score and youtube video scares me a bit. On one hand my daughter does progress very well under her tutelage. On the other hand she is only 9 years old and I don't want her to be pushed too hard.

Re "hello my name is" comment about why I think my daughter is not good enough - I do think my daughter is very good compared to a normal 9 years old, but we did nothing out of the ordinary in terms of learning and preparation. Weekly lesson + daily 60-90 minutes practice, that's it. I have heard stories of kids going through 3-4 hours daily practices (longer during weekend) and I just don't want my kids to go through that.

Re: Competition? [Re: claiz] #2676406
09/19/17 09:19 PM
09/19/17 09:19 PM
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western MA, USA
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I'm surprised that no one has yet mentioned the biggest benefit of competitions for students: the judges' comments.

Recitals are great as a performance experience, and a chance to be appreciated by your teacher and your mom and all the other students and families. But students don't have that many chances to get in-depth feedback from knowledgeable pianists who aren't their teacher. A competition will do that.


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Re: Competition? [Re: claiz] #2676533
09/20/17 01:26 PM
09/20/17 01:26 PM
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Hi Claiz, for competitions I did nothing out of the ordinary in terms of learning and preparation too. I'd say most of the ones in the competition were all pretty typical kids who didn't do anything special for preparation. I knew of one kid in my teacher's studio who practiced for hours as well but he was exceptionally in love with piano (went on to a conservatory). I don't think the word "competition" should scare you into thinking the preparation for it will be out of the ordinary, but it's hard to know unless you talk with the teacher about what her expectations are, particularly in terms of time, since that seems to be a concern.


~piano teacher in training~
Re: Competition? [Re: claiz] #2676628
09/20/17 10:49 PM
09/20/17 10:49 PM
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Williamsburg, VA
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Judges comments can be useful or useless, depending on the quality of the judges and how much time they have to ponder and write. I have seen both.

Last edited by Piano*Dad; 09/20/17 10:53 PM.
Re: Competition? [Re: claiz] #2676667
09/21/17 05:06 AM
09/21/17 05:06 AM
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In the kids' competitions I've attended, the judge's comments (actually just the head adjudicator's) were made in public to the whole audience, and relatively anodyne - after all, he could only praise if the performance was good, or say something like "good effort" if it was a total mess (usually due to nerves).

If a student really wants good detailed objective comments from an expert, he'd be far better advised to do exams like the RCM's. I certainly remember how they helped me (and my teacher) when I was doing the ABRSM exams as a student. And of course it wasn't just the pieces - every part of the exam (scales & arpeggios, pieces, sight-reading, aurals) was commented on.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Competition? [Re: claiz] #2676773
09/21/17 01:35 PM
09/21/17 01:35 PM
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Thank you all - my children have Guild Audition so they receive detail feedback from there as well.

Just wondering if anyone knows some piano competitions around New England area that is not very cut-throat?

Re: Competition? [Re: Piano*Dad] #2676774
09/21/17 01:37 PM
09/21/17 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Piano*Dad
Judges comments can be useful or useless, depending on the quality of the judges and how much time they have to ponder and write. I have seen both.

Piano*Dad, that speaks volumes of my first experience with entering students into a festival. Most comments were positive and encouraging, yet IMO, students who should have been given higher ratings were not. Most of the students were pre-teens and one particular judge (who I was told later was "horrible") filled the entire page with comments on body movement and motion. These are on average, very nervous children who are in that most awkward stage. Basing a final grade on something that a pianist may nor may never feel comfortable with, was, IMO unfair.


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Re: Competition? [Re: Piano*Dad] #2676807
09/21/17 03:56 PM
09/21/17 03:56 PM
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Orange County, CA
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Originally Posted by Piano*Dad
Judges comments can be useful or useless, depending on the quality of the judges and how much time they have to ponder and write. I have seen both.

Absolutely correct! Most of the comments are erring on the side of being too positive, lest the teachers or parents complain and the judge is not hired again. Also, world-class musicians with high standards are probably not the most "constructive" of comment writers.


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Re: Competition? [Re: claiz] #2676817
09/21/17 04:41 PM
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Not that it's my business, but if you child is already performing in two recitals a year, as well as learning Chopin, at the young age of 9 years old, isn't this enough? If you decide to enroll in a competition this year, my guess is the teacher will want your child to compete every year thereafter. In a few years, your child will burnout and resent playing.

Re: Competition? [Re: chasingrainbows] #2676868
09/21/17 08:10 PM
09/21/17 08:10 PM
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
Originally Posted by Piano*Dad
Judges comments can be useful or useless, depending on the quality of the judges and how much time they have to ponder and write. I have seen both.

Piano*Dad, that speaks volumes of my first experience with entering students into a festival. Most comments were positive and encouraging, yet IMO, students who should have been given higher ratings were not. Most of the students were pre-teens and one particular judge (who I was told later was "horrible") filled the entire page with comments on body movement and motion. These are on average, very nervous children who are in that most awkward stage. Basing a final grade on something that a pianist may nor may never feel comfortable with, was, IMO unfair.



"Festival" is an event where the judges are primed to be rather nice. That's not a problem. Students who participate in this event aren't generally on track for the Cliburn. They're just normal kids, unless they're actually "competing" in one of the Federation's bigger statewide events. (Been there, done that).

Judges at the festival are generally "your" peers. I put that in quotes because the judges tend to be pretty representative of the teachers in the region. That's OK too. It's a peer event for the most part. You glean what you can from the judges' comments and you go on with life. Teachers parse the event for their students. It's your job to use the comments for what they're worth, and discard them if they happen not to be worth much that year.

It's easy to get wrapped up in notions of fairness when you think about these events. If you have real difficulty getting beyond that, these events will be stressful and probably unfulfilling. Alternatively, just look at what is said and decide how to frame it for your students. Don't get hung up on fairness. There is so much subjectivity and randomness. Yet you can still learn something from the feedback, and if you run up against a judge who you think is an idiot, you disarm that judge for your student. My own son (the flutist) ran up against a judge who simply didn't like the piece he played (Chaminade). Her comments, in the mind of my son's teacher, reflected that dislike. Afterward, and in private, his teacher stuck a knife in the judge, much to my amusement and my son's amusement. Was there some information in the comments? Of course! We thought about it and used or rejected the comments as his teacher thought fit.

Most kids can be taught to appreciate the vagaries of life through these sorts of events. If little Jill or Johnny has such a tender ego that they can't stand an "unfair" judgment then they're not going to be well prepared for the real world out there. I guess that's why I'm having some difficulty with all the arguments against events like this because of "unfairness." Yes, bad judging happens. So does really good judging. There's randomness in these things, just like in life. Framing is important.

Re: Competition? [Re: claiz] #2676974
09/22/17 11:30 AM
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Commuter - that exactly is my worry. On one hand I can see the benefit of the competition, the feedback, how to handle the pressure and result and the emotion either the elation or disappointment (I had my fair share of Trombone competition when I was young). But then I don't want my children to be burnt out as well.

In any case, the piano teacher did not bring up the topic of competition last week so I am avoiding the issue for now =)

Re: Competition? [Re: claiz] #2739381
05/25/18 11:16 AM
05/25/18 11:16 AM
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Just want to follow up with the conversation. My kids did enter into a piano competition this year (AADGT) and they did quite well. The preparation was not easy since their teacher becomes quite meticulous. The good thing is the "audition" is via video/youtube so it's much less stressful for them. Both of my kids placed silver and got into a recital in New York. So overall it is a lot of work but also good experience. During the recital they got to play in a nice music hall, and listen to other amazing kid's performance too. Funny enough, the stress is less about the competition and recital, but more on the practice and preparation to get to a very good performance level.

Re: Competition? [Re: claiz] #2739492
05/25/18 06:25 PM
05/25/18 06:25 PM
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Following OP's feedback, I was wondering if this kind of "video competition" would be good for those kids that easily get nervous in front of public? It is nice to be able to tweet the performance in a private setting to the satisfaction of the performer but it also lacks the flavor of live performance. Would you encourage your students to participate in this kind of competition judged based on video submission?


Estonia L210
Re: Competition? [Re: claiz] #2739997
05/28/18 02:50 AM
05/28/18 02:50 AM
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If you decide to go, make sure your daughter understands that - after a certain level - music competitions are TOTALLY SUBJECTIVE. If you're doing a track race, well, it's obvious who is the "Winner" - the person who can run fastest!

There is absolutely no such way to objectively rank musical performance. I've judged tons of competitions, and often I feel like people on the other end don't understand that in an alternate universe, with a different set of judges, the winners would have lost, and the losers would have won. With hard competitions (Those with many contestants and only a few prizes), winning is matter of luck and chance more than anything else. (Assuming equal preparatation of contestants). I was a judge once when, in my opinion, the winner should have been clear, but my cohort did not feel right giving a prize to the student of a teacher who would use an Alfred edition instead of an Urtext.

I think the stronger your daughter understands this, the less likely she is to be discouraged by a potentially negative experience. I think competitions can only be positive if one trains oneself to be unaffected by the outcome, and just look at it as another performance.

Last edited by Opus_Maximus; 05/28/18 02:58 AM.
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