This past week I had the privilege of attending our 5th annual 3-day Maritime Games and Fine Arts Festival. I was an adjudicator for the music entries of the fine arts section of the event. This event is held at Forest Glen Bible Camp, and involves teenagers (from grades 6-12) from churches in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and even Maine. I always enjoy listening and observing the pieces that the kids put together to present to us. There were piano solos, duets, and hymn playing. There were vocal solos, duets, and groups. There were brass and strings solos and groups. And there were 7 of us judging the pieces in a rotating fashion, according to our area(s) of expertise.
The fun of adjudicating is seeing how much the kids have worked, and highlighting the positive aspects of their performances. I love seeing the talent of young people, and thinking of the potential they have if they continue learning. The frustration of adjudicating is having only a 1-inch by 2-inch box in which to write our analysis of many specific areas! Now, I am a writer by nature and not a speaker (although as I gain experience in front of people the speaking part gets easier). But the longer I teach piano, the more I realize that it is SO much easier to explain a concept through speech than to write it. We teachers are constantly sharpening our skills as we learn creative ways clothe the negative with positive motivation to do better. And most of the time we are speaking it, knowing the individuality of the student to whom we speak, and knowing how to present it so they will accept it and be inspired.
The other part I really enjoyed at the festival was chatting with the other adjudicators (most of whom also happen to be piano teachers) about lessons, both giving and taking. We swapped ideas as we talked about method books, policies, lesson rates, pianos, and the balance of critique and encouragement. I even got some grading done for a few of my students' theory books, and I had a few minutes to work on my own theory. It was a great few days and very refreshing for this teacher!