Our honors students recently participated in the Utah Federation of Music Clubs (UFMC) Piano Solo Festival. For those of you who don’t know, one of the programs we offer here at the Utah Piano Conservatory is the Honors Program. Students in the Honors Program have a 30-minute one-on-one lesson with me every week in addition to their normal 90-minute Piano Academy lesson. Honors students work on more solos than other students (usually 3-4) and are held to a higher standard in the Technique and Pass-Off rooms as well. Additionally, honors students have the opportunity to participate in special events like festivals, competitions, and different types of evaluations.
For the UFMC festival in particular, students are required to choose one piece from a pre-approved Federation-supplied list based on their level. All of the music on this list is by American composers. With the help of their teachers, students also choose a piece by a non-American composer. The students then learn, memorize, and polish these pieces before performing them in the festival in front of three judges who award each student with a certificate and one of the following ratings: Superior, Excellent, Satisfactory, Fair, or Needs Improvement.
All of our students worked hard and did so well at the festival. They showed perseverance, a strong work ethic, and the ability to do scary things. Playing in a festival is different from and, in some ways, scarier than just performing in a recital. At a festival, students play in front of judges who have the music in front of them and are actively writing down both criticisms and compliments for the student to read through and learn from later. That can be pretty intimidating, but it’s also extremely good performance experience, particularly if a student desires to major in music at college where an audition in front of faculty members is required.
The sheets the judges fill out about each student are also very beneficial. I enjoy going through each sheet with my students at their lessons and discussing what went well and what could stil be improved. This process was extremely encouraging for one of my students last week. Almost all of the judges’ complimentary comments were about elements of her playing that we have actively been working on for several months. It was so good for both of us to see that her hard work has been paying off and that it is noticeable to others.
We’re so proud of our students and the amazing things they are accomplishing!