Preparing Students for Competitions
If you are entering students in competitions, this will affect your approach to the overall curriculum, specific literature/technique/keyboard harmony, enrichment activities, and pace of the studio year.
Consider these points:
copyright 1997, Martha Beth Lewis, Ph.D.
- For each student you are entering, write down why she is entering. "Winning" should be at the bottom of the list. Things you might list:
- to gain self confidence
- to gain self-esteem
- opportunity to be heard
- to be around other children with similar talents and goals
- There's no such thing as a "winning formula."
- Keep the student's self-esteem intact. A good approach is "You don't ever lose. Sometimes you just don't win." The process is important, not the winning. Focus on self-esteem, not the result. There are always more non-winning students than winning students.
- Examine your own motives for entering the student. Is it your ego talking?
- Consult with the parents. Is it -their- egos or vicarious pleasure talking?
- Don't enter students automatically every year. Consider each situation and student individually each year. What is beneficial one year may not be the next; and vice versa.
- Keep level-headed balance between what you would teach anyway and what you feel a judge would like to hear when it comes to literature selection during the year.
- Don't completely abandon ancillary activities during the studio year, such as accompanying, ensemble playing, etc.
- Prepare the student for the unexpected. Stop and start in unusual places. Play the program out of order. Play the program without warm-up. Play the program on an unfamiliar (and poor quality) instrument.
- Coach the student on procedures. Have a warm-up exercise prepared, should the judge ask the student if he would like to warm up.
- If you have parents from other studios approach you after your student wins, probe the parents' goals very carefully. Don't let yourself become a victim of parents who are "teacher hopping" in search of competition wins.
Contact me for reprint permission.
You may be interested in my thoughts on the pros and cons of competitions and what judges are looking for.
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