Britain has a long established tradition of competitive and non-competitive festivals of music, drama and dance. These offer amateur musicians a wonderful opportunity not only to perform in front of their peers, but also to be given professional feedback by a learned adjudicator.
Most often performing arts festivals take place over a few days to a week, and a split into ‘classes’ that participants pay a small fee to enter. Some classes are competitive and so the top three performers will be ‘placed’. Occasionally there is a cup that the winner takes for the year and sometimes even a prize of some sort. Other classes have no competitive element, but the adjudicator still gives feedback on every performance – how that instrumentalist or singer might think about improving, and what the positive qualities of the given performance were.
I’m relatively new myself to the festivals scene, but I have entered Colne, Skipton and Burnley festivals with my students and with the choirs that I conduct. Although they’re not everyone’s cup of tea, I would like to offer more of my students – both adults and children – the opportunity to get involved with the festivals that take place in this area. Most people come away from performing at these events with a real sense of pride at what they’ve achieved, especially if they get placed by the adjudicator.
One word of warning on that last point, though: the adjudications and placing are based on a single person’s opinion. Not everyone always agrees with the placings. So, if you do ever have a go at entering a competitive class, take all the placing etc in the spirit that they are intended: to support and encourage. Whether you win a class or not REALLY doesn’t matter, but enjoying the experience does!
Here are some of the local festivals in which some of my students might like to participate: