As long as I can remember, I have been a supporter and believer in the greater good that comes from participating in the local music festival. There are many great benefits that come with participating in Kiwanis, Rotary, or local community music festivals. Here is a glimpse into my story.
As a young child growing up in Niagara Falls, Ontario, I vividly remember registering for the music festival: the weather would change to the early signs of spring (the music festival was always the first two weeks of April every year). I would be doing the following: practicing hard for the big day, playing for the adjudicators, enjoying their feedback, and feeling the desire to register and participate next year. As I matured, I had the privilege, like all of my peers, to enjoy the feedback that was offered by a variety of adjudicators. Some were memorable for being intimidating, they were scary, and were not usually invited back in other years. There were other adjudicators that were amazing! They were motivational, funny, positive, and offered great comments that helped encourage the students to strive to learn more.
This past week, I had the opportunity and privilege to adjudicate at the Quinte Rotary Music Festival in Belleville, Ontario. The week was filled with great music, students of all levels performed music at the best of their ability. In most cases, the only individuals in the audience were the adjudicator (yours truly), the parents of the students, the volunteers that were helping to organize the festival, and the music teachers of the students. I would listen to the students perform, take time to write comments on each piece, offer a grading for each performance, and then would make presentations and master classes on what I heard. It was a pleasure to work with such great young talent, there were so many young and eager young musicians wanting to listen to my feedback.
When I was giving master classes or offering verbal comments to the students at the end of each class, I could not help but think about when I was at the opposite side of the room. Many years ago, I remember sitting in pews with my peers listening intently to every word that the adjudicator would say to the students. I would feel somewhat nervous, sometimes I would be afraid of what the adjudicator would say about my playing. This past week, I saw exactly the same picture through a different lens. I am now the adjudicator offering comments to the students, they are listening to every word that I am saying to them.
When I think about the picture from this angle, I see how valuable music festivals are to communities, music studios, and the learning process.
1. Students receive comments from music professionals that have an ear for listening to music at the highest level.
2. Adjudicators have dedicated many countless thousands of hours of their time to master their craft to the highest level so that they have the ability to offer professional feedback on the music that they listen to.
3. Teachers help to mold the students in their studio to enjoy the music they are playing, they encourage their students to listen to comments from another musician to help the student see the music from a different perspective.
When all of these elements are combined, everyone sees the power of the learning process.
It is a privilege to adjudicate at music festivals, to listen to the students perform their music, to see the teachers and parents in the audience listening and enjoying the moment.
We are all connected to music, we all aspire to great things. We all have the music inside us. I encourage you to take in a local music festival and support young music students, they are the pathway for our next generation of musicians and culture ambassadors.