On Saturday, seven of my students played their recital pieces for a local Ribbon Festival held by my local MTNA/OhioMTA chapter. So proud of them!
I’ve been sending students to this festival since I moved to Ohio three years ago. This is a non-competitive event — meaning, there are no winners. Students perform one piece by memory and are given a ribbon, a certificate, and a comment sheet from an adjudicator. The comments are always written in a positive, encouraging way, even if there are many suggestions for improvement. At this particular festival, students are awarded a certain color ribbon according to how many years they have participated in the festival. This certainly motivates students to come back each year!
I find it so valuable for students to participate in community events outside of my studio. It is good for students to have a goal to prepare for and become accustomed to performing in various settings. And it is always beneficial for students to hear other students play and get exposed to more music. When we prepare for outside events, we talk about hearing the performance through the ears of the audience/judges.
I always look forward to reading what the adjudicators write on the comment sheets. Usually, the comments either (1) confirm my thoughts about the piece or the student’s playing, or (2) give me ideas that I hadn’t considered before (which is great!). When the judges’ comments reinforce what I am trying to develop in my student, this is helpful to both of us!
Other benefits: It is good for students to learn to be open to feedback coming from sources other than the teacher. And when students receive positive feedback from an outside source, they are assured that the teacher is providing good instruction.
To sum it up: Sending my students to outside events has helped me become a better teacher.
There are many different types of community events and as I mentioned earlier, they are not necessarily competitive. If you do not currently send your students to outside events, I would encourage you to research what might be happening right in your own town! I recommend checking if there is a local MTNA chapter in your area. Other options in the U.S. include: National Federation of Music Clubs (NFMC), Piano Guild, and the Royal Conservatory of Music testing. Each of these programs offer unique benefits, so there is bound to be something that is right for you and your students!