Clavier Companion - May/June 2017 - 38
To judge and be judged
To judge and be judged
by Craig Sale
eachers should always strive to
provide positive and successful
music experiences for their
students. Within the walls of the teaching
studio, it is much easier to create these experiences-
the environment and people involved are familiar, and
the teacher has more control of outcomes. However,
this is not the case when students leave the studio and
are evaluated at adjudicated events such as festivals,
performance exams, and competitions.
I have been fortunate to serve as an adjudicator
for these types of events over the years, as well as to
prepare students for them. I believe both the teacher
and the adjudicator (who is usually a teacher, as well)
hold great responsibilities for ensuring a positive and
successful student experience at the event.
The teacher's responsibilities
When preparing students for adjudication, it is
important for them to know-from the outset-that
they are working toward a very special goal. They are
preparing material to perform "away from the nest" of
the teacher's studio and familiar performance settings.
To perform outside of the studio is a big step toward
independence with their music. It is exciting but
also challenging. It requires that students be in total
command of their material.
Practice which successfully prepares students
for evaluation is usually more demanding than the
practice done from lesson to lesson. Students and
their parents need to be aware of this. Before entering
students in a contest or festival, it is necessary to have
discussions with them and their parents about these
practice demands and the reasons for participating.
Everyone involved needs to know what lies ahead.
I always talk with students about "why" they are
participating in the event. Simply gaining more
experience in playing musically for others is a
worthwhile reason. Another reason to participate is to
get feedback-to learn ways in which the performance
can become even more effective. Although students
are sometimes motivated to "win the prize," I never
discuss this as an intended goal.
Selecting the right type of event for the student is
key to creating a successful experience. There are many
different types of adjudicated events in which students
can participate. Each provides feedback and tangible
rewards in different ways. The most common are:
* Festivals with written (or verbal) feedback and
a ribbon or certificate of participation given at
* Examination programs which usually provide a
certificate of achievement, a specific critique
sheet, and a final score.
* Semi-competitive events with written comments
and a score which determines a level of
achievement, i.e., a gold, silver or bronze medal;
superior, excellent, good ratings, etc.
* Competitions in which specific "winners" are
selected-sometimes with written feedback given,
Teachers need to consider carefully which type
of event is best suited to the student. For a "first
experience," I prefer to place students in festivals that
provide feedback but are semi- or non-competitive-
where the student is only evaluated according to the
adjudicator's standards. Then, if I see a competitive
side to the student, we move on to events in which the
student is compared to others and has the possibility
of receiving a goal prize.
Before entering a student in an adjudicated event,
the teacher should do some research. Most festivals
and competitions have printed or online materials
explaining the event and its mission. It is often helpful
to speak to other teachers who have had students
participate in the past. This information can be essential
when wanting to place the student in the right type
of event. It also helps the teacher adequately prepare
the student-musically and psychologically.
Here is a brief list of additional (but essential) things