Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level?

Posted by: ezpiano.org

Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/28/12 02:05 PM

In your opinion piano competition should be categorize by age or by level to be fair?
Jane is 9 YO, she can play Level 9 pieces because she started piano at 4YO and really hardworking in practicing.
Adam is 9YO too, he can only play Level 2 pieces because he just started piano one year ago.
Let's say both of them are same quality in performing their own pieces, and went to piano competition categorize by age, of course the judges would favor Jane but not Adam.
What do you think?
Posted by: ten left thumbs

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/28/12 02:31 PM

That's why I never really got the point of competitions.
Posted by: MaggieGirl

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/28/12 02:33 PM

Like skating since size isn't an advantage, I'd go with by skill level. You have to trust the teacher (just like the coach) to not sandbag. It happens, but life isn't always "fair".
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/28/12 02:33 PM

Fair competition is stimulator and will serve it good purpose.
I am thinking about this because as far as I know, chess competition is not categorize by age but their Level (from 0 to 2000 as national master). However, physical competition such as running is categorize by age. I like to know what other teachers think. Thanks.
Posted by: John v.d.Brook

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/28/12 03:57 PM

Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org
I like to know what other teachers think. Thanks.
Competition is apparently inherent to the human condition. This neither makes it healthy or unhealthy for students. Generally speaking, my experience has been that musical competitions are so inherently "unfair" that I seldom enroll my students in them. The exception for me is when I can make the student's participation congruent with other learning goals, such as a performance opportunity for an advancing student that has music performance ready and is looking to perform.
Posted by: Ann in Kentucky

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/28/12 04:19 PM

In one competition that I observed, there were 3 categories based on grade in school: elementary (for kids K-5), Middle school (grades 6-8) and high school (9-12). The overall winner could be from any of the categories, and in the case I observed, it was won by a middle school child.

If the 9 year old plays her level 9 piece well, then she'd be more likely to win than someone playing a level 2 piece well. But a lower level piece played well would outscore poor playing at a higher level.

Jane and Adam would be in the same category. You would have to look at the quality of student who generally enters the competition to figure out whether it would be appropriate to enter a Level 2 kid in the competition.
Posted by: Piano*Dad

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/28/12 04:46 PM

There are competitions, and then there are COMPETITIONS.

At serious events -- and yes, I know that the word "serious" is loaded -- age is usually the criterion, and it's not really much of a problem. All of the 10-12 year olds are going to be quite good. You're not going to have 12 year old beginners entering the same events with the 10 year old whiz kids playing advanced sonata movements. Serious events would include scholarship auditions (things with money on the line) and important master class auditions. These events are somewhat biased against late starters. That's life. I know this one from personal experience since my eldest was just such a late starter. Oh well.

At more "friendly" events, like Federation festival, level is the criterion. Students play pieces from a set list that is level normed. And this too isn't a problem. Students aren't competing against each other quite as much. They're shooting for a superior, for instance. These are events that are primarily designed to support student learning and give them a performance opportunity (with feedback) outside of normal studio recitals. They are less intensely competitive.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/28/12 05:17 PM

Well, there's a big difference between being able to play level-9 pieces and playing it musically. If a 9-year-old kid can play Liszt or Brahms convincingly, musically, and powerfully (that's a big if), then that kid should definitely go compete.

Teachers must do their homework and find out the nature of each festival and competition. Enter the average students in the less competitive ones, and enter the really talented students in the more competitive ones. It's really not that complicated.
Posted by: Piano*Dad

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/29/12 09:41 AM

Quote:
Teachers must do their homework and find out the nature of each festival and competition. Enter the average students in the less competitive ones, and enter the really talented students in the more competitive ones. It's really not that complicated.


Indeed.

There is no dominant ethic of fairness that should govern how every event is run. There is instead a diversity of goals and norms. Pick and choose based on the talent, training, and personality of your student. As AZN says, It really is not that complicated.
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/29/12 11:37 AM

I think the fairest competitions are based on level of playing - where they have a list of what pieces they consider to be "advanced" "intermediate" etc. and the competitors choose from that list.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/29/12 01:54 PM

Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
There is no dominant ethic of fairness that should govern how every event is run. There is instead a diversity of goals and norms.

The problem is that we always have a few outlier teachers who don't read the rules and/or just "don't get it." They keep on sending kids in method books to the most challenging events. My favorite example, which I've alluded to before, is a girl playing from The Joy of First Year Piano, while the rest of the field is playing Mendelssohn Songs Without Words, Bach Prelude and Fugue, Mozart Sonatas, Mozart Fantasies, and other substantial repertoire.

On the other extreme, there are also trophy hogs who send their best students to the easiest categories. Recently, I'm observing more and more judges (with ample experience) who actually punish the talented students in the easier categories by picking winners whose repertoire matches the intent of the category. Good for them!
Posted by: Piano*Dad

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/29/12 02:27 PM

Originally Posted By: Morodiene
I think the fairest competitions are based on level of playing - where they have a list of what pieces they consider to be "advanced" "intermediate" etc. and the competitors choose from that list.


That's the way the Federation state level competition in Virginia was (is) run. They take the various levels (oh, perhaps twenty of them) and bundle them into three super levels. You still wind up having early intermediate students competing against early advanced students within the same level, but that at least narrows the field a bit.

But I would hesitate to call this "fairest" in any objective sense. As AZN notes, you can have an advanced student go back and clean up in an easier category, both because they are older (and more musically mature) and because they are simply better. That's not fair to the students who are younger and who have just begun to mature into their current level.

In my area, we have a major scholarship audition for high school and below that is divided into junior and senior categories, by age. Thirteen and under is junior. Fourteen and up is senior. Period. Clearly, a fifteen year old intermediate student has no chance in the senior category. Many have tried, and for them it's just a performance opportunity. That's OK with me. I don't find that particularly unfair. These high schoolers aren't allowed to go compete with the juniors. Likewise, there are some juniors who are as good as the top seniors. In the junior category, these wind up the winners! What a surprise. That's life. The juniors who are not at that level have something to which to aspire! Everyone is invited to listen to all the performers, so every contestant has the opportunity to hear the others, if they wish.
Posted by: lilylady

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/29/12 02:46 PM

I have ALWAYS had a problem with competitions for students. Young students in particular.

Music should be about SHARING MUSIC, not competing.

At all levels and ages.


Grrrrr....

end of rant.
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/29/12 02:50 PM

Quote:
who actually punish the talented students in the easier categories


By saying so, you mean competition at your branch is base on easier or harder categories (level) but not age?
Posted by: MsAdrienne

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/29/12 02:56 PM

In our local sonatina/sonata competition, we have six divisions (Primary through Advanced), and each one has an upper age limit, e.g. Primary - 7 and under, Elem. I - 9 and under, etc... The repertoire selections within each division are graded within a narrow range.

This lets the younger students "move up" and compete with more-difficult repertoire, but prevents the "big kids" from playing the simpler pieces in the Primary and Elementary divisions.
Posted by: Piano*Dad

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/29/12 03:02 PM

Quote:
They keep on sending kids in method books to the most challenging events.


This is really weird. Don't those events have a pre-screening? Top auditions require students to list the repertoire they have played for the previous year or 18 months. The organizers can then limit the competition to students who have achieved at least a certain minimum level of proficiency.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/29/12 03:11 PM

Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org
Quote:
who actually punish the talented students in the easier categories


By saying so, you mean competition at your branch is base on easier or harder categories (level) but not age?

No. My branch does every festival/competition by age, except for Bach Festival. There are lots of other non-MTAC competitions in Southern California, and they are all different in terms of difficulty and competitiveness. Do your research.
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/29/12 03:15 PM

So you mean some is by age and some other is by level, and I have to do my research.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/29/12 03:16 PM

Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
Quote:
They keep on sending kids in method books to the most challenging events.


This is really weird. Don't those events have a pre-screening? Top auditions require students to list the repertoire they have played for the previous year or 18 months. The organizers can then limit the competition to students who have achieved at least a certain minimum level of proficiency.


There might be one or two events that pre-screen, but none that I know of. It's commonplace to see the scenario I described. It happens almost every year. At the top, top competitive events, most of the teachers know what they are doing when they send students there.

Who knows? Maybe the teacher is sending the method book student to these events as a "See, you need to practice more!" learning experience. Some kids are oblivious to how much more advanced their peers are.
Posted by: Piano*Dad

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/29/12 03:27 PM

If the events don't pre-screen, then they are creating their own problem. And part of this problem is borne by the poor students who don't know what they're getting into, and who wind up profoundly embarrassed. I would not have much respect for teachers who deliberately send young people into the buzz saw, wasting the judges' time and embarrassing the kids and their parents.

I remember being in events for which I was overmatched. But I was playing the right level of repertoire.
Posted by: The Monkeys

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/29/12 03:31 PM

Well, the person who enters a nine year old playing level 2 into any kind of competition has judgment issues.

Competition has it's place, but it is not for everyone.



Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/29/12 04:34 PM

Originally Posted By: The Monkeys
Well, the person who enters a nine year old playing level 2 into any kind of competition has judgment issues.

Oh, but there are actual competitions with categories for age 9 playing level 2 pieces. You just have to find out where that is and then avoid it like the plague.

I was told that some of the free-for-all festivals were set up deliberately in a way so that experienced players can compete side-by-side with the more novice players. At these events, some judges will take it upon themselves to judge Liszt Tarantella harder than Burgmuller Arabesque.
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/29/12 05:47 PM

Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
I think the fairest competitions are based on level of playing - where they have a list of what pieces they consider to be "advanced" "intermediate" etc. and the competitors choose from that list.


That's the way the Federation state level competition in Virginia was (is) run. They take the various levels (oh, perhaps twenty of them) and bundle them into three super levels. You still wind up having early intermediate students competing against early advanced students within the same level, but that at least narrows the field a bit.

But I would hesitate to call this "fairest" in any objective sense. As AZN notes, you can have an advanced student go back and clean up in an easier category, both because they are older (and more musically mature) and because they are simply better. That's not fair to the students who are younger and who have just begun to mature into their current level.

In my area, we have a major scholarship audition for high school and below that is divided into junior and senior categories, by age. Thirteen and under is junior. Fourteen and up is senior. Period. Clearly, a fifteen year old intermediate student has no chance in the senior category. Many have tried, and for them it's just a performance opportunity. That's OK with me. I don't find that particularly unfair. These high schoolers aren't allowed to go compete with the juniors. Likewise, there are some juniors who are as good as the top seniors. In the junior category, these wind up the winners! What a surprise. That's life. The juniors who are not at that level have something to which to aspire! Everyone is invited to listen to all the performers, so every contestant has the opportunity to hear the others, if they wish.

It still think it's the "best", not meaning optimal. It's a compromise but it works for most people. Those younger students can get the experience and then when they're older they can play easier rep and win. smile

And by the way, what's wrong with having it be "just" a performance experience? If you have a student that is going to be pursuing a career, they will have to get used to the whole competing/auditioning thing where they set their own goals for their performance and enjoy the process of sharing their talent with the panel, no matter who else walks in the door.
Posted by: Piano*Dad

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/29/12 06:25 PM

Folks, I'm going to reiterate that there are competitions, and there are COMPETITIONS.

When we're talking about events at which many thousands of dollars of scholarship money are given out, this is a serious business. At an event of this sort, it's unlikely that the organizers are interested in hearing a fifteen year old play Mozart's K545. At events of this sort, age-based criteria seem quite sensible. Scholarship auditions are about "the best," and as fraught as that judgment may seem, the "best under ten" has some meaning.

I have no problem with students who seek out competitions as performance opportunities. But there is a reasonableness criterion. It's a waste of just about everyone's time, including the performer's, to have a young person playing a repertoire that is completely out of line with the event. Teachers should do some due diligence to ensure that there is an appropriate match between the student's ability and training, and the event for which they are entered.
Posted by: jdw

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/29/12 08:30 PM

Originally Posted By: lilylady
I have ALWAYS had a problem with competitions for students. Young students in particular.

Music should be about SHARING MUSIC, not competing.

At all levels and ages.


Grrrrr....

end of rant.


+1
Posted by: Opus_Maximus

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/29/12 10:14 PM

There is no such thing as a "fair" competition.

The problem with having level based competitions (as opposed to age based ones), is that levels are too subjective. The criteria for delineating categories for different levels would be too fuzzy. ..PLUS I think a lot of scheming teachers would opt to put their best students in an "lower level" competition, so that they would have a greater chance of winning first place.
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/29/12 10:34 PM

Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
Folks, I'm going to reiterate that there are competitions, and there are COMPETITIONS.

When we're talking about events at which many thousands of dollars of scholarship money are given out, this is a serious business. At an event of this sort, it's unlikely that the organizers are interested in hearing a fifteen year old play Mozart's K545. At events of this sort, age-based criteria seem quite sensible. Scholarship auditions are about "the best," and as fraught as that judgment may seem, the "best under ten" has some meaning.

I have no problem with students who seek out competitions as performance opportunities. But there is a reasonableness criterion. It's a waste of just about everyone's time, including the performer's, to have a young person playing a repertoire that is completely out of line with the event. Teachers should do some due diligence to ensure that there is an appropriate match between the student's ability and training, and the event for which they are entered.


That's not what I meant. I'm not talking about wasting anyone's time, and I also mentioned I was referring to competing AND auditioning. You go in and do your best, but you NEVER know who else will walk in the door, so you always have to have your own goals. That is very far from saying that you go to a competition when you're not a serious contender just for the experience.

edited to add: And I would never encourage a student to try for a competition that they had no chance of winning. Nor would I have them enter something that wasn't enough of a challenge for them.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/30/12 03:01 AM

When the question was first asked I thought the answer was obvious. Students who have been studying for 5 years would compete against other students who have been studying for 5 years. Students who have been studying for 2 years would be competing with those who have been studying for 2 years. It just seemed logical. Now I understand that a student who has been studying for 8 years could compete against a student who has been studying for 2 years because they are the same chronological age. It just seems very strange. What is the logic behind that?
Posted by: ten left thumbs

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/30/12 03:21 AM

When I grew up playing music we (my brother and I) were entered every year for the local festival competition. I did a grade exam, six months later there was the festival, 6 months later the next grade exam, and so on till I left home. It's just what we did. The competition was organised by age, so it was 'under 10s' then 'under 11s' etc. Basically it meant you could only enter if you had started around age 7, otherwise you were way behind everyone.

Sometimes I won, I was delighted. More often than not, I didn't win. Didn't upset me, as I wasn't expecting to win out of 20 performers. I was nervous, and it was good performance practice for me.

Now I am teaching the whole scene is different, and I'm not sure why. Most of my students seem to learn much slower than I did. Fully half of my students don't start at the 'normal' age of 7. The whole learning picture is much more diverse. There are very few of my students I would consider entering for competitions.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/30/12 03:35 AM

Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs
. Basically it meant you could only enter if you had started around age 7, otherwise you were way behind everyone.

That's the point, and the question asked by the OP. Not everyone starts lessons at the same age.

Quote:
Fully half of my students don't start at the 'normal' age of 7. The whole learning picture is much more diverse.

Is it possible that the system is reflecting what you knew in your childhood and that it has not kept abreast with present day realities?
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/30/12 04:35 AM

It's pretty much useless to go by the student's length of study because:

Kid A, started at 7, played 3 years, can play Liszt

Kid B, started at 7, played 3 years, can play Burgmuller

Kid C, started at 7, played 3 years, can play stuff from Piano Adventures Level 2B

Now, there are some competitions that dictate a prescribed repertoire for each age group and/or years of study. But then the Liszt kid can just pick the hardest piece and play it perfectly. The Burgmuller kid can pick the middle-of-the-road piece and play it fairly. The PA2B kid can barely play the easiest piece listed.

That's why some local competitions here did away with age AND length of study, and turned the festival into a free-for-all.
Posted by: Piano*Dad

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/30/12 09:40 AM

This is a competition with which I am very familiar:

Levels for the Classical Period competition

They break the applicants up into age ranges. The ranges are fairly narrow, so they don't have high school students competing against elementary age kids. This is perfectly logical, given the goals of the event. This event is not designed to satisfy egalitarian sentiments. All nine year olds are in the same category, and all fifteen year olds are in the same category. They seek the best in each group. If someone finds that criterion obnoxious, they won't enter their students or their children, and that's fine. The university that hosts the event is not interested in finding,

Quote:
The best twelve year old who has studied for five years and who has reached level three.


They simply want the best, as judged in a preliminary round by their piano faculty, and in a final round by an outside evaluator who then teaches a subset of the winners in a master class.

Again, if you find this distasteful, don't enter. In fact, you will not find much cannon fodder in the older age categories. This event draws from three big states, so very few people are likely to travel two hundred miles to have no chance. Some local kids enter who have little chance, and for them it's just a performance opportunity in front of two judges. You'll note that there is also an entry fee. Fees of that sort are less about making money, and more about erecting a nuisance barrier to reduce the number of irrelevant entries.

It's incumbent upon the teachers to understand what these events are all about, and select the ones that match the students' abilities and sensibilities.

I think it's a big mistake to consider events like this using the same fairness notions as events whose purposes are quite different.

Posted by: keystring

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/30/12 11:19 AM

It's not a matter of obnoxious but a matter of logic. If a 13 year old started at age 12, and another 13 year old started at age 5 but they must both compete, how does that work? The only way that I can see that working is if the first one plays material that one could reasonably expect someone with one year of studies, and one expects skills that someone with one year of study may be able to acquire. Then the same criteria commensurate with the other student's background. Is that how it works?

I have not chosen the age at random. My child auditioned for placement in a special school with limited openings, having had one year of instruction, while many of the others had 6 - 8 years of instruction. All the applicants were around the same age since they were entering grade 9. In the application the private teacher stated the student's year of studies, and the grade level of the piece was commensurate. If it's along those lines then there is some logic. (He got in back then, btw.)
Posted by: Piano*Dad

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/30/12 11:34 AM

Why do you think that they must both compete? A thirteen year old who started at twelve is unlikely to have the skills to "compete" in any real competition of the sort that I have given in the link above. If they do, more power to them. If they don't, perhaps they should not enter.

If an organization is looking for "potential," then they can choose the most "potential-worthy" by whatever criteria seem best. Listen to the nine year old who has had two lessons and decide potential. Listen to the nine year old who has played since three and decide potential. Choose between them. That's fine. But if the organization is interested in awarding the nine year old with the best chops at this moment, then the one who has had only two lessons is unlikely to be given the $500 and the master class with Leon Fleischer.

I'm not trying to find a Golden Rule of Fairness to govern all selective processes. I think that is a fool's errand.

Likewise, I think organizations that cannot make up their mind about what it is they are trying to accomplish with their "competition" set themselves up for all sorts of failures, snafus, and ticked off teachers and students. It's rather difficult to be all things to all people.
Posted by: TimR

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/30/12 11:46 AM

Hmm. Just thinking out loud.

As an assessment tool, if I could compare children with the same time in lessons, I could evaluate the teacher. Teacher A's 3 year students are consistently better prepared than Teacher B's, I know who to send my child to. Teacher A's 10 year old student is better than Teacher B's 10 year old, but that doesn't tell me much.

As a research tool, it would be interesting to know the difference between the 3 year student who started at age 6 vs the 3 year student who started at 9 or 12. Academically speaking, and given equal instruction of course.
Posted by: The Monkeys

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/30/12 02:12 PM

Originally Posted By: keystring
When the question was first asked I thought the answer was obvious. Students who have been studying for 5 years would compete against other students who have been studying for 5 years. Students who have been studying for 2 years would be competing with those who have been studying for 2 years. It just seemed logical. Now I understand that a student who has been studying for 8 years could compete against a student who has been studying for 2 years because they are the same chronological age. It just seems very strange. What is the logic behind that?


Interesting, rather than to group them by age and by level, you are suggesting the third way of grouping, by experience (years of study). Haven't seen one.

Not sure if it is practical though, how do you verify the experiences? Also, don't you think the slower learners, like playing level 3 after 4 years study will feel really bad? since she can compete at level 3 but must compete with people at mostly at level 4 or 5?

I liked the ones that are grouped by aged under.
Like under 9, under 11, under 13 etc.
If you are 10 you can go the under 9 group, but you are welcome to go the under 13 group if you can compete at that level.

But again, don't sent the kid to a competition unless she is ready to compete, i.e. has a chance of winning.
Posted by: The Monkeys

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/30/12 02:17 PM

Originally Posted By: keystring
It's not a matter of obnoxious but a matter of logic.


I guess the logic is not to punish the ones started early.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/30/12 02:18 PM

Originally Posted By: The Monkeys

Interesting, rather than to group them by age and by level, you are suggesting the third way of grouping, by experience (years of study). Haven't seen one.

I'm not suggesting anything. I'm wondering how it's done. If you have a 12 year old with 2 years of lessons, and a 12 year old with 7 years of lessons, how do you group by age? How does that work? (Literally).
Posted by: keystring

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/30/12 02:19 PM

Originally Posted By: The Monkeys
Originally Posted By: keystring
It's not a matter of obnoxious but a matter of logic.


I guess the logic is not to punish the ones started early.

Why should anyone be punished. It's an event, not a court trial. (?)
Posted by: The Monkeys

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/30/12 02:29 PM

Originally Posted By: keystring
Originally Posted By: The Monkeys
Originally Posted By: keystring
It's not a matter of obnoxious but a matter of logic.


I guess the logic is not to punish the ones started early.

Why should anyone be punished. It's an event, not a court trial. (?)


Well, a 7 year old started at 4, and a 12 years old stared at 9, both studied for 3 years, do you think it is fair to put them together to compete?
Posted by: wouter79

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/30/12 02:45 PM

It IS kind of court trial. For some (many?) their future (getting a grant, or being accepted for conservatory) depends on it.

As mentioned above, I think the rationale behind 'age' is that at a certain age the kids leave school and have to decide to make a living with music or not.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/30/12 04:13 PM

Don't auditions exist anymore? I mean, are university decisions being made by competition results? Is this prevalent mostly in the U.S. or does it exist elsewhere? Neither of my relatives went anywhere near such a thing.
Posted by: Piano*Dad

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/30/12 04:21 PM

keystring, you seem hung up on a particular kind of audition and/or what your family has experienced. If you look at the site I linked, which is a rather normal type of "competition," it is unlike anything you seem to be talking about. Most competitions are about selecting the best performers in certain age categories, because they presume that all entrants are serious students. They have no interest in adjusting for lack of training. They do understand that 9 year olds who have been studying for four years shouldn't be compared to fifteen year olds who have been studying for ten. But a fifteen year old who has only just started playing is simply out of luck. They shouldn't be at such an event, and it is not illogical for the organizers to behave in exactly the manner that they are behaving.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/30/12 04:40 PM

Originally Posted By: TimR
As an assessment tool, if I could compare children with the same time in lessons, I could evaluate the teacher.

It's one tool, but you have to take into account other things. There are teachers and, ahem, "music schools," who don't teach theory. At all. Zero. All they teach are hard pieces so they can send students to competitions. They can spend an entire year on one Liszt piece that the student plays at five different competitions!! This stuff really happens!!

I heard several of these kids playing Liszt recently. They were just horrible. Jaw-droppingly horrible. They missed a bunch of notes, played at wildly different tempos, and OBVIOUSLY the pieces are WAY TOO HARD FOR THEM!!!!!!! They were horrid in July. They were horrid again in November with the same Liszt piece. I can't believe their parents can be duped into (really expensive!) lessons when all they do in a year is one stupid Liszt piece. It's like winning a trophy is all piano lessons are about.

In all my years of teaching, I've taught exactly two Liszt etudes. My students generally aren't advanced enough to play Liszt. I don't even like Liszt (can't you tell by the Liszt-bashing I'm typing so far?). However, stuck in the same competition category as these Liszt kids, guess who won?

When you obliterate idiotic judges who automatically hand out trophies to kids who dare to play Liszt--no matter how poorly--then competitions start to make sense. And "fair."
Posted by: keystring

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/30/12 04:58 PM

P*D, I am not "hung up" on anything. I've asked questions to understand. My last question was about university entrance in music because someone said competitions were a gateway to that. Since several people I know went the professional route, and a few of them are practicing musicians with degrees, and we looked into it, I was surprised because competitions were not part of the equation. That is why I asked whether this is geographic. It is also possible that things have changed in the last 5 - 10 years. The people I know who got into university passed an audition which was administered by the university, and also had to write a theory exam as part of the auditioning process. That is all I know of first hand.
Posted by: Piano*Dad

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/30/12 04:59 PM

I have encountered very few events like that, AZN. I'm sure they exist, and I'm sure that all too many families think of piano as a trophy sport and not as a tool of education. But I can't say I have seen very many piano events in which the outcomes were skewed in that manner. The horribly mangled, overly-difficult work is usually trumped by the very-well-played difficult work. smile
Posted by: TimR

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/30/12 05:00 PM

It's one tool more than I have now. <grin>

But it's not an ideal tool. Not all teachers enter all their students, and I can only hear a competition prepared piece.

It's a little like home schoolers taking college boards. They tend to do slightly better than average public school kids. But less than 1% of home schoolers take the boards, so you can't really draw meaningful conclusions one way or the other.

The ideal tool is the pop quiz.

We take all 3 year students, give them a new piece and an hour to prepare, and rate that.

Hee, hee.
Posted by: Piano*Dad

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/30/12 05:01 PM

Originally Posted By: keystring
P*D, I am not "hung up" on anything. I've asked questions to understand. My last question was about university entrance in music because someone said competitions were a gateway to that. Since several people I know went the professional route, and a few of them are practicing musicians with degrees, and we looked into it, I was surprised because competitions were not part of the equation. That is why I asked whether this is geographic. It is also possible that things have changed in the last 5 - 10 years.


Well, when you keep referring to age categories as illogical, seemingly without wrestling with the reasons why (and situations when) they can be quite logical, I begin to wonder ...
Posted by: keystring

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/30/12 05:09 PM

Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad

Well, when you keep referring to age categories as illogical, seemingly without wrestling with the reasons why (and situations when) they can be quite logical, I begin to wonder ...

Have you read all of each post, and succession of posts? As more is learned, they change? A problem in Internet reading is often a tendency to skim and react to impressions. I have done that myself at times.
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/30/12 05:31 PM

Quote:
We take all 3 year students, give them a new piece and an hour to prepare, and rate that. Hee, hee.


Hee Hee.... I like that too. I prepare my students extensively in ability of sight-reading, I am sure they can do well in this pop quiz.
Posted by: Ann in Kentucky

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 11/30/12 05:34 PM

Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
The horribly mangled, overly-difficult work is usually trumped by the very-well-played difficult work. smile


This reminds me of another competition I attended. Organized by a few local teachers. There was plenty of accomplished playing at the elementary and middle school level. But the high school level had only two entrants. These two couldn't remember their piece, had poor stage presence and made the audience as miserable as they were. Yet they both got a trophy (1st and 2nd place). It looks like an accomplishment on paper though.

So this is another problem that can arise. There's the question of whether winning means anything.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 12/01/12 03:20 AM

Originally Posted By: Ann in Kentucky
But the high school level had only two entrants.

It is a trend that most kids quit piano before high school; however, in my MTAC branch we always have excellent players at the high school level, even going past Level 10 and doing higher-level competitions and auditions. It's tragic that very few of them actually become piano majors! They just keep playing piano because they like it.
Posted by: malkin

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 12/01/12 09:07 AM

Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
... excellent players at the high school level, even going past Level 10 and doing higher-level competitions and auditions. It's tragic that very few of them actually become piano majors! They just keep playing piano because they like it.


What is tragic about this?
Posted by: Piano*Dad

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 12/01/12 09:33 AM

Hmmm, sounds like MY son. smile
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 12/01/12 10:14 PM

Originally Posted By: malkin
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
... excellent players at the high school level, even going past Level 10 and doing higher-level competitions and auditions. It's tragic that very few of them actually become piano majors! They just keep playing piano because they like it.


What is tragic about this?

It is tragic because those talents will go to waste once they're done with lessons. There is a huge difference between having college-level piano training and not having it.
Posted by: The Monkeys

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 12/02/12 12:07 AM

Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: malkin
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
... It's tragic that very few of them actually become piano majors! They just keep playing piano because they like it.


What is tragic about this?

It is tragic because those talents will go to waste once they're done with lessons. There is a huge difference between having college-level piano training and not having it.


The problem is that the employment outlook of the music majors is not particularly bright. Financially it is probably better to be a dentist (or even a programmer) and amateur musician. As much as we love music, we have to face the real life.
Posted by: Opus_Maximus

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 12/02/12 02:25 AM

Originally Posted By: The Monkeys
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: malkin
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
... It's tragic that very few of them actually become piano majors! They just keep playing piano because they like it.


What is tragic about this?

It is tragic because those talents will go to waste once they're done with lessons. There is a huge difference between having college-level piano training and not having it.


The problem is that the employment outlook of the music majors is not particularly bright. Financially it is probably better to be a dentist (or even a programmer) and amateur musician. As much as we love music, we have to face the real life.


You can be a music major and still go on to dental or medical or law school, or whatever. Lots of graduate programs look favorably upon music studied in undergrad years.
Posted by: malkin

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 12/02/12 09:11 AM

Still, what's the tragedy?

The kid 'coulda been a contendah' but chose to pursue a professional career outside of music?
Posted by: currawong

Re: Fair Piano Competition - by age or by level? - 12/02/12 07:17 PM

Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
It is tragic because those talents will go to waste once they're done with lessons.
I don't think you can be sure about that. Just speaking from my own experience, even though I have degrees in music, they're not in performance, yet I ended up with an immensely satisfying career as a performer. If the passion and motivation are there, they'll do something worthwhile. If it's not, a performance degree probably won't do it for them.