Every February, many of my students participate in the Illinois Federation of Music Clubs’ Junior Festival. This will be my fourth year as a member of the federation, and it’s no less nerve-racking than it was when I first started!
At the end of October, I help my students choose their two pieces (one required, one choice) that they will learn, memorize and then perform at Festival. It’s a long few months, and by the end of January, we’re all ready for the big day so that we can move on to some new repertoire.
But all their hard work pays off in the end: last year, two of my students received their first gold cups, meaning they received a “superior” score three years in a row. This year, I have 5 students hoping to receive their first gold cups.
I like participating in Festival for many reasons, both for my benefit and the benefit of my students. Here are just a few of them:
- It makes me a better teacher. My job is to help those kiddos get ready to perform not only for an audience, but for judges who will score their playing. No room for slacking!
- My students are held accountable for their practicing. If they don’t do the work, they don’t get that superior score. It’s funny how motivation levels skyrocket between October and February :)
- It’s an opportunity to learn from other teachers and students. I really enjoy being amongst a group of teachers, all of whom have different teaching styles, and my students can learn from the other participants.
- Performing in Festival builds self-confidence. There’s nothing better than the smile on a student’s face after he or she has played well and received a great score.
It’s going to be a busy weekend for all of us, as they perform both on Saturday and Sunday while I’m busy serving as a room chairman (of two rooms, this year!). I have a feeling we’ll all be much more relaxed come Monday…but until then, wish us all luck!