Springtime means competitions for many of the best music programs around the country and especially in Chicago.
Look, I'm all for competitions. When I was younger, there were not so many of them and teachers viewed them with a bit of scepticism since most teachers thought that music is music and sports are sports. Competitions smell too much like sports rather than music.
Here we are in 2018 and much has changed. Most kids feel that competitions are important to their development and teachers, often pushed by stage parents, steer their students towards the competitions much to the detriment of the long term growth of the student.
So how do I feel about competitions? When the time comes, I think they are great and I would encourage any talented young person to enter a competition if they feel that they have the time and desire to compete for prize money. And many of the best competitions are pretty lucrative these days so it is well worth the effort.
However, don't skip fundamentals such as scales and arpeggios. Etudes are important for technique and help with hard passages in solo literature such as concerti and sonatas.
Students will enjoy success in competitions if they come with a good core set of fundamentals. If not, they are probably wasting their time, money and energy.