KMTA Conference – Preparing Student Winners by Jack Winerock

This was a very interesting session, with lots of interaction and thoughts shared by various teachers. Here are a few random nuggets of wisdom that I picked up:

Outline very clear expectations for students so that if they elect to enter a competition, they know what they are getting into. The student should be willing to take ownership of preparing and competing.

Enter competitions that the student actually has a chance of winning. Prepare them accordingly.

Capitalize on the students’ strengths. What do they do best? We have a responsibility to teach everything, but should know our students. The teacher should ultimately assume the responsibility of selecting the repertoire. The judge has to be impressed while the student is playing. Keep in mind that they are also looking for reasons to eliminate students. As one teacher in the room stated, “Anything played well is a show-stopper.”

Have a grasp of the big picture in order to determine and organize an appropriate practice regimen.

It’s not all about winning or losing, but about preparing to the highest level.

When doing practice performances, be sure to keep the most important performance as the ultimate focus. If they are doing 10 practice performances before the competition, make sure you don’t treat the sixth one as the biggest event.

When practicing, ask, “What are the three measures about which I feel most insecure?”

On the day of competition, practice as little as possible. Above all, you don’t want the student to feel tired or spent when they compete.

If any of you have other little nuggets of wisdom you’d like to add that relate to preparing students for competitions, I’d love to hear them! I’ve never been that much into competitions, but I have a few students who are interested in pursing that avenue, so I’m eager to prepare them well. One thing that I’m learning is to take competing more seriously. It is a valid endeavor for some students, so if they are going to pursue it, I need to do my part – as their teacher – to prepare them for a positive experience.

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