Competitions & Evaluations

There are many opportunities for piano students today to participate in various events such as evaluations and competitions. In my studio I do not require participation, but for many students these opportunities inspire tremendous growth. Students are usually inspired to work harder by hearing firsthand what their peers are accomplishing, and many benefit from the social aspect of meeting other young people who are pursuing similar interests.

What is an evaluation?

An evaluation is a formal process in which a student plays prepared pieces for a trained adjudicator. A simple evaluation might involve playing one piece for comments and a rating. A more comprehensive evaluation typically involves playing three memorized pieces from different styles and time periods, demonstrating scales and technique at specific tempos, sight reading, taking a written theory test, and demonstrating ear training and rhythm skills. Students are scored on each aspect. Organizations that offer comprehensive evaluations require a student to pass with a minimum number of points to progress to the next level of testing, much like gymnastics or ice skating.

What is a piano competition?

A piano competition typically involves playing one piece for a judge or a panel of judges. The winner(s) will often be invited to play in a public concert. The competition might have a particular focus, such as music by JS Bach. In a piano concerto competition, the entrants each audition by playing a piano concerto–the winner plays the concerto in a concert with orchestra.

Don’t competitions cause the students to focus too much on winning or losing?

Most parents and teachers, and in turn the students focus on the benefits and process of working toward a goal. Learning to prepare carefully and accept the results of that one day in time gracefully is a great life skill. It is also important for students to see firsthand that there is always something more to learn, that mistakes and bad days will happen, that adjudicators are real people who do not all focus on the same set of demonstrated skills, and that there are always students who are more or less advanced by a particular age.

My student does not plan to go into music professionally, so is participation necessary?

Participation in music evaluations and/or competitions tends to inspire practicing. The more a student practices consistently, the more comfortable the student tends to be, and increased competence tends to result in a much higher level of enjoyment. Most people enjoy the social connections made through the experience, as well as the challenge, just like athletes enjoy actually going and playing a game after learning the appropriate level of skills.

RSS Feed