Music competitions aren’t for everyone

Some students enjoy the prospect of showing  off their musical skills in a  competitive setting. For the students who thrive on this kind of atmosphere there are many opportunities to satisfy their needs.  The drive to battle against an opponent and to prevail, to come in first can be very motivating to these students.

However, there are also many music students who enjoy learning and playing music for their own personal gratification. They find fulfillment in their studies and garner motivation from within themselves. They take pride in learning and working hard to improve their skill level without the need for the outer rewards that come from competition. They might even find competing stressful thereby mitigating the potential rewards of studying music in the first place.

We live in a very competitive society. Their are many opportunities to compete within music education and obviously in the world of work, school, sports, etc. We certainly support and encourage all of our students who audition for local student level bands and orchestras as well as those who compete in competitions  through such organizations the Mid Atlantic Music Teacher’s Guild.  We recognize the value of each in their role as our partners in music education.

In our conviction to provide a personalized approach for every student we want to recognize and support the fact that many students are actually best served without exposure to competition (a situation that can be re-evaluated over time). Your teacher has years of professional experience and is well equipped to help you to assess  whether competition is appropriate.

Whether you choose to be involved in music competitions or not it is good to be familiar with the pros and cons and to enter auditions and competitions with the right state of mind, one that allows for the prospect of not winning the prize while simultaneously not allowing defeat to deflate the love and passion you have for the music you play.

While competition can build mental toughness and prepare musicians for the competitive reality they may heading towards, competition has also been accused of squelching creativity, and called detrimental not just to the development of young artists but to the evolution of the art itself. Whether competitions are helpful or harmful depends on how you approach them.

If approached as a framework for learning rather than as a win or lose experience, students can use competitions in a positive way. (Barli Nugent, Julliard).  Competitions provide a context in which students can push themselves to learn a great amount of repertoire, to polish it to a high level, to be able to manage their time, practice productively, demonstrate poise under pressure, cultivate a unique voice and image, perform under adverse conditions, and more.

Winning is just a side effect of having successfully achieved all of these objectives. It can easily be argued that the objectives are more valuable for long-term success than the actual winning.  Think about the fact that successfully achieving those goals would make you deserving of winning that one time prize while preparing you for long-term success even without that one time award. (Bulletproof Musician, Noa Kageyana, Ph.D.)

If the award and notoriety are still important to you than by all means, participate in competitions and enjoy them. If you would rather avoid competing, we understand. Either way, your teacher will support and respect you!






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