For Parents: An Audition By Any Other Name…

So your child has been asked to participate in a festival, audition, adjudication or competition! The first question is probably “What is it?” as the terms are used interchangeably and can create lots of confusion.

For example, Guild Auditions as sponsored by the American College of Musicians, which used to be called “tournaments,” states as their primary function: “…to establish definite goals and awards — in non-competitve auditions — for students of all levels. Students are judged on individual merit…” — and not compared to other participants.

Festivals like those sponsored by RMTA (Dorothy Sutton Performance Festival, RMTA Spring Festival) are categorized as “semi-competitive,” meaning that there can be several or many receiving top ranking.

The word “audition” is defined as a “systematic process to select a performer based on the talent displayed.” Similarly, the purpose of a competition is to identify and award the outstanding performance. The awards can be anything from trophies, ribbons and certificates to cash and even musical instruments.

Some of the events are called “closed auditions,” that is, there is no audience allowed. Only the student and the judge(s) are in the room. Other events, like the MTNA Performance Competitions are called “open auditions” and allow an audience to listen to the performances. Check with your teacher as to the parameters of your particular event.

Most all of these events include a written critique — the adjudication portion of the experience — which totally blurs the lines between the various names for the particular event. The primary purpose of an adjudication is to provide a concise evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of a performance and to offer recommendations for continued growth. In general the evaluation takes into consideration accuracy (notes, tempos, dynamics, articulations, rhythms), tone, intonation, balance, phrasing, expression, clarity, memorization, repertoire selection, stage presence and artistic maturity, and sometimes even repertoire choices. Your teacher can inform you of the requirements of your particular event.

Regardless of what it’s called, the performance event is an ideal platform to help child learn how to focus, to learn goal-setting, develop consistent practice skills and gain confidence — all traits that will be an asset both within the musical performance world and in the real world.

How Can the Parent Help?

Here are some ways the parent can help their child prepare for such events and make it a positive musical experience:

  • Establish consistent daily practice, particularly in the weeks preceding the event.
    Help the child review the teacher’s instructions and follow through at home with the desired goals.
  • Keep the practice area free of distractions — toys, televisions, siblings, etc.
    Arrange ‘mini-recitals’ or performances before the main event.
  • Encourage the child to record himself and listen while reading the music.
  • Make sure the child is rested. (No sleep-overs the night before!)
    Don’t schedule too many events the same day.
  • Help the child stay calm and positive the day of the event. Allow plenty of travel and prep time before the actual performance time.

Most importantly — DO encourage, support and offer praise for what he or she has accomplished for a positive musical experience!

Performance Opportunities
Here are a few performance opportunities for music students. Some require an organizational membership, others do not. This is by no means a complete list of events that are available. Talk with your teacher about participation in these or any other event.


MTNA Performance Competitions

Other Competitions

Other Competition Resources

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