Reply To: Festival Panic
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There is no actual advice in this post, just a feeling a mutual understanding (*disclaimer)
I’ve been going to contest for 11 years, have had my groups qualify for state in most of those years, and am also a judge for our state’s adjudicated events (contest). I still get nervous and stressed around contest time, and often lay awake at night wondering if my group will ever come together and get it. I never get nervous about home concerts…I want them to be great, but at the end of the day, the parents are happy no matter what. This is why contest keeps us on our toes and makes sure we are doing the best we can. As much as I often complain about the idea behind contest and threaten that I won’t do it anymore, I always find myself filling out the application year after year because I know that it makes me a better teacher for my kids. (though it would be nice just one year to program the music I WANT to do, not what is on the list)
Here is what helps me:
1. Act stressed out all of the time, eat poorly, and yell at the kids (ok..not really)
2. Have colleagues come out and listen/critique/work with your group. They will either affirm what you are doing, or help you improve. This has worked great for our kids (and myself) as it exposes them to a different and fresh set of ears. We all hear our bands differently after a few months.
3. You know what good sounds like. Step back and ask if your group sounds good. In most cases, it probably will. So don’t freak out.
4. I always tell our kids that “I don’t care what rating you get,, as long as you do your best I will be happy”. Unfortunately, the kids know that’s a bunch of BS, but they do take the message to heart and I think they approach contest with the correct mentality.
5. Realize that you are not alone. 99 percent of the band world goes through this time of year with a pit in their stomach.