I spent a few hours listening to vocal classes at the Chesham Arts Festival this evening. As I live a stone’s throw from The Elgiva Theatre it seemed a good idea to support my local festival. I thoroughly enjoyed it and all the young singers (mostly girls) gave their best, some producing admirable performances. Sadly though, there were about twenty people in the audience (most of them competitors).
Music Festivals are an ideal platform for young musicians to learn their trade. There are hundreds around the UK – so there is bound to be one near you. If you have a child who is preparing to take a music exam then a music festival is the best place for them to get used to giving a performance in public. Performing is a stressful business and everyone who does it needs practice especially when they are just starting out.
If you enter your child for a festival, they will usually be placed in a class of similar age and ability (you can choose which class on the entry form). All competitors will be invited to perform their piece or pieces to a small audience and an adjudicator. At the end of the class, after everyone has played, the adjudicator will give comments and feedback on every performance and then announce a winner. The atmosphere at these events is both friendly and relaxed, quite different from an examination.
The old adage is true here; it really isn’t the winning, it’s the taking part that counts. The one major benefit of performing in public is to build confidence. The more confidence a person has the better they will act under pressure. Learning to perform really is a useful tool for so many situations in life. Its the reason why I feel that every child should have the opportunity to learn an instrument (more on this subject in future blogs!).
If you wish to investigate Music Festivals as a possible activity for you (if you are learning an instrument – there are many adult classes too!) or your child, here are a few suggestions:
Make sure your child really knows the piece they are going to perform (it’s a good idea to get them to play it through to a few relatives first before the big day). If a competitor is unprepared it could knock their confidence and stop them trying to play in public ever again. Preparation is the key to success.
Make sure your child has plenty of family support on the day (why not watch the whole event?).
Always give your child plenty of praise afterwards – you have no idea how difficult it is to get up and perform in public.
You can get lots of information about Music Festivals all over the UK (and abroad) from the following website:
Some competitors in Scotland:
For much more information about practising repertoire, take a look at my two-book piano course, Play it again: PIANO (Schott). Covering a huge array of styles and genres, 49 progressive pieces from approximately Grade 1 – 8 are featured, with at least two pages of practice tips for every piece.
If you’re thinking about learning to play the piano, my guide-book, So You Want To Play The Piano? (Alfred) is full of useful help and support.
The Faber Music Piano Anthology (Faber) is also a valuable resource for those who desire a collection of standard repertoire from Grades 2 – 8, featuring 78 pieces in total.
I have written a selection of educational piano music (both solo and duet) and you can hear it and find out much more here: EVC Music Publications.