What the heck is a Music Festival?

Lauren Music FestivalWritten by Cathy Thompson, Co-Founder of Beyond the Studio and Founder of Beyond the Classroom

As a parent of a vocal and piano student, I have heard a little about music festivals but I had no idea about the ins and outs until my daughter competed in the recent Peel Music Festival. Adrienne (the director at Beyond the Studio and my daughter’s teacher) had never brought up or pushed the idea of competition. Beyond the Studio is simply about nurturing a love of music. As a parent, I often wondered how my daughter’s vocal skills measured up technically amongst her peers. Not that I’m all about competing but I thought it might be good for my daughter to compete in an area she’s comfortable in (singing).

The first thing is to locate the website for registration for the festival and register your child several months in advance (there are several festivals happening across Ontario at any given time). There is pre-planning required. On this same website you’ll find out the piece that is required to be performed – in this case is was a song called the Curliest Thing by Thomas Dunhill from 1937! We also had to acquire 1 piece of the original sheet music for the competition for the adjudicator. Through her weekly music lessons, my daughter worked on the song over and over, getting the technical aspects down to a science.

Next you must find an accompanist who will play the piano while your child sings. You book at least 1 rehearsal with the accompanist to ensure all is in sync for the competition. In our case, the accompanist was fantastic and my daughter felt comfortable with her, which goes a long way for an 8 year old.

Competition day – no milk! It coats the throat and makes it harder to sing clearly. Warm up voice exercises for 10 minutes and we’re ready to go!

We arrive at the church about 20 minutes early, sneak into the pews and watch the previous group performers compete. Next, we listen to the adjudicator judge the competitors and offer some words of encouraging wisdom. Next my daughter’s group is called to the front. After a nod to the accompanist she was singing her little heart out to The Curliest Thing. I think I was more nervous than she was during the judging! She was determined to place first in her group and she did! She got the medal she was hoping for and wore it all day when she got back to school.

If your child is interested in competing in a music festival, it’s certainly something to consider. However it’s important to really consider the child’s temperament, interest in competing and age to ensure it’s a positive experience.

Here is a link to the Ontario Music Festivals Association for a listing of festivals. http://www.omfa.info/