Between the years of 1986-1996 there was no question what I would be preparing for each April: playing piano in the local music festival. I have lots of memories of driving to Owen Sound with my mom to play out my (usually) carefully prepared pieces in one of the city's churches. Of course missing school and going out for lunch were the highlights of these excursions! As a shy kid the festival was always a terrifying experience, though looking back it was good for me in many ways. Now I am helping my own students prepare for this annual event in the same city, so I can't help but reflect on the positive impact this type of festival can have on a community.
For some students who are preparing for a formal exam, the festival can be very helpful as an added venue to perform their works in progress. It can be invaluable to play these exam pieces in front of an audience and receive comments from an encouraging adjudicator. For younger students the festival can provide a wonderful goal that helps "get them through the winter"; looking ahead to spring we carefully prepare our piece(s) to play for family and friends in a positive performance setting.
The kids love hearing their peers play, the adjudicators are friendly and encouraging, and of course they usually miss a bit of school! At the end of the two week-long event there is a concert to celebrate the "stars" of the festival. Usually the top award recipients from each category perform, and special awards and scholarships are handed out. It is a great celebration of achievements and music-making.
|"A Pair of Pirates"|
There are now new classes that have been added since I first played in the festival, including many aimed at Canadian music, drama and speech arts, music composition and even adult classes. (It has crossed my mind whether entering the festival again myself would be a good idea, but I think for this year I will have enough to do helping my wonderful students play their best.) Here is the website for the Grey County Kiwanis Festival of Music, where you can view all the syllabi and print off entry forms. The deadline for applications is February 3rd. Have fun!
P.S. Here is a lovely piece my student Dominic played me at his last lesson. The piece is from Faber's My First Piano Adventures Lesson Book C. He played it so well I just had to record it!