More on Music Competitions

A few months ago, I wrote about competitions (here and here). This prompted a reply from Australian pianist and friend Daniel Gassin (his post here).

Among other things, Daniel wrote that two of his fellow competitors, who weren’t selected as finalists, commented that they’d “rather be doing gigs and tours with leading musicians than winning competitions.” I can’t comment on which is more valuable to the individual, but they’re certainly not mutually exclusive.

Why wouldn’t you participate in competitions? I can think of three reasons:

  1. You can’t afford travel and accommodation,
  2. You don’t want to pass up a more fruitful opportunity
  3. You’re aesthetically opposed to competitions.

Otherwise I would encourage you to apply for all competitions. Engage the community!

Let me be clear: a bio that states you won first place in a competition offers no more legitimacy than a bio that reads you’ve played with leading musicians. Ideally, the only thing that should give us legitimacy is our music, but that’s the paradoxical nature of the language and unfortunately, it’s the language the music community uses to judge us!

I try to react neutrally to flashy bios and resumes. I imagine that most artists are the same. Wouldn’t you want to hear if they’re good before booking them for a tour? However, reading that they’re won a competition or played with someone heavy will peak my interest; it’s hard to resist!

That being said, I guarantee that winning/participating in competitions won’t hurt you. It may hurt your ego, but so could playing with leading musicians!

The community will respond positively to both, so do them both!

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