Piano competitions - The good, the bad and the ugly

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Postby pianogal » Mon Dec 31, 2007 2:54 pm

Can anyone make a list of things judges most looking for? (from most important to least important)
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Postby Tranquillo » Mon Dec 31, 2007 11:30 pm

It would depend on the competition. There was a classical competitions with the aim of it to appreciate the strict rules of classical music. Other competitions emphasise the innovation and orginality.
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Postby pianogal » Tue Jan 01, 2008 8:47 pm

Some renown pianists "break rules".
For example, I've heard one play the Mozart sonata in a romantic way (lots of pedals), sounds stunning, but will the judges mark you down for not playing the right way (even when all the emotions are there)?
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Postby Tranquillo » Tue Jan 01, 2008 9:05 pm

Some renown pianists "break rules".
For example, I've heard one play the Mozart sonata in a romantic way (lots of pedals), sounds stunning, but will the judges mark you down for not playing the right way (even when all the emotions are there)?


That sounds very much like a popular contempory pianist by the name of Tori Amos. She was talented and was accepted into a conservatorium at an early age. However she rebeled against classical repertoire and decided to create her own style.
Well, there is often a criteria for competitions. ... and its best to keep strict to them. You are the one entering and you know what they want ... stick to it.

That example of those renown pianist breaking the rules is very much true. Vladimir Horowitz, he played with straight fingers. Famous people get away with doing incorrect things. But this is a competition ... a different matter.
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Postby suisseadele » Wed Jan 02, 2008 9:07 pm

'In reply to Pianogal Dec 31 2007 about Piano Competitions and what judges are looking for.'
This is NOT discussing the pros and cons of competitions, that's another topic.
I am NOT an adjudicator but have entered many students in competions over many years.
This is a list that I think may help you in preparing your students for competitions.
This is NOT in order of importance.
1 Appropriate music; choose music that is attractive, not simplified unless specifically permitted. Try not to choose exeptionally popular music such as Fur Elise unless your student can play it excellently. Look for something a bit unusual that has audience appeal.
2 Musicality; Dynamics, voicing, balance of hands, etc.
3 Fluent performance- no stumbling. It is better to play with the music than without if it means there will be no stops or hesitations. Memory is better only if reliable. In more advanced competions memory is expected of course.
4 Clean technique; sensitive pedalling, good articulation etc.
Accuracy; This applies to everything, notes, timing tempo etc.
5 Stage presence; this means neat clothing, acknowledgement of audience by a bow. Try to exude positiveness. Try to give the impression that you are really enjoying playing the music.
6 It is better to choose a piece slightly below the students present standard than to present a piece that is more difficult and may "crack" under pressure. This gives the student more confidence, also it must be ready some weeks before the competition, not just perfected a few days beforehand. The student should also have the opportunity to play the piece before a sympathetic audience of friends and family beforehand.
PS With popular type music find out before hand if improvisation is encouraged.

Hope this helps.
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Postby pianogal » Thu Jan 03, 2008 11:53 am

Wow, thank you so much, suisseadele!
I had many problems back in Nov, 2007 at the competition, most of them you've just mentioned. It's really helpful for me to prepare my next competition.
Thanks again! :laugh:
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Postby suisseadele » Thu Jan 03, 2008 5:19 pm

pianogal wrote:Wow, thank you so much, suisseadele!
I had many problems back in Nov, 2007 at the competition, most of them you've just mentioned. It's really helpful for me to prepare my next competition.
Thanks again! :laugh:

Pianogal, glad I was of some help. Hope you have success in your next competition. Enter with the idea that you are gaining experience and 'feed-back'. You want to improve your playing , any awards is just the "cream on the cake"!
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Postby Tranquillo » Tue Apr 08, 2008 4:49 am

pianogal wrote:Can anyone make a list of things judges most looking for? (from most important to least important)

I was talking to my singing teacher and music teacher the other week and both say that the judging is very much subjective. Its something that cant be helped due to being human, often there is no dead straight specific criteria to what they are looking for, but I guess the key thing it woud come to the quality of performance, and sussiedale has givern insight into it.
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