Life is hard!

I took some kids that I teach to a Jazz Festival today. This was the first time that I had taken any students to a competitive festival as a teacher. A large part of my high school music experience was going to competitive festival with my school, and usually doing very well. We were even rated Gold at Nationals a few times.

Taking students that I am teaching to a competitive festival is a whole different thing though. I’m responsible for them. Not in the “They suck so it’s my fault” or the “They rock and it’s my fault” sort of way, but the “I want them to get something positive out of this.” Turns out it may not be such a positive experience after all.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, Music festival work in the following way:

1) You prepare 3 piece of contrasting style, for Jazz (which is what we competed in today), it’s usually a swing chart, a ballad, and then, as my high school music teacher used to say, the “Barnburner”. This last piece is meant to be something exciting to end on.

2) You work on these piece for several months back at your school.

3) On the big day of the festival, you go to the venue and perform your piece in front of an audience, and also the Adjudicators (cue the scary music now!)

4) After your performance, you typically get a 20-45 minutes clinic with one of the adjudicators.

5) Later on that day, you receive you some suggestions and a rating from the adjudicators. The ratings go as follows: Poor, Fair, Good, Excellent, Superior.

So there you go. There is a quick and dirty run down of what a festival is like.

Today was interesting. We performed out set in the auditorium, and the sound was just… off. I don’t know if the students where very nervous, or if they just didn’t get enough warm up, but their wasn’t much energy in their playing. They played technically very well though. I enjoyed the performance and thought that it was something that the students should be proud of.

The clinic after the performance was good. The adjudicator was very knowledgeable, and praised the kids a lot. He worked with them on some things that did not seem to be very major.

After the clinic, I had many positive comments from several people who had heard out group. The students however, didn’t seemed to be very energetic about their performance. They seemed to be very…. “whatever” about it. I know, that how teenagers are about everything, but it just didn’t seem like they had enjoyed themselves.

Later on that day, when I returned to the theatre after returning the students to the school, I picked up the adjudication package.

We received a “Good” rating, and placed 5th out of 5 groups. Although I’m not too worried about the placing, the rating kind of bugged me. And not that I thought that the adjudicators had gotten it wrong (although it is funny that for everything that one adjudicator marked us “Poor” on, the other adjudicator marked us “Excellent”. It was like a game a see-saw.

The problems that I’m having at the moment is that I keep thinking about how I’m going to talk to the students about this. I know that I’m happy with out adjudication, but I feel that they will be disappointed. Especially about the placing.

What am I to do. I have a feeling that this is going to keep me up all weekend, as it is tonight. I don’t see the kids again until next Tuesday, so it’s a few days to toss and turn in bed about it.

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