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The "correct" mindset for competitions - Controversial topic (Read 1008 times)

Offline soultrap

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The "correct" mindset for competitions - Controversial topic
« on: August 09, 2018, 09:12:33 PM »
Ah, the controversial topic of competitions. Why do people participate? Fame? Prize money? Performance experience? Meeting and familiarizing with the jury?

No matter the reason, people have always wondered what the point of competitions are, as it's purely subjective.

I want to discuss, in my opinion, the correct mindset going into a competition, and what it should be treated as.


First of all, let us define "mindset".
A definition I found: "the established set of attitudes held by someone."
The established set of attitudes. Hmm. Interesting.
When people go into competitions, their attitude and what they seek from the event make up their mindset. There isn't a definite CORRECT way of thinking, but there are incorrect mindsets. Absolutely.

What do competitions try to accomplish? To make money, and to select the "best" pianist. How? Is it technique? Well, not exactly. If you look at the top, prestigious competitions in the world, (Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Arthur Rubinstein, Queen Elizabeth etc.) there isn't a big gap in technique prowess between any of the performers. Really, how much technically better could one finalist be, compared to another?

So, competitions are mostly subjective to the liking of the audience and jury. There is no "standard" that says: "Oh, you must play like this, because that is the right way to do it."

One mustn't enter a competition thinking: "I must win this competition. The prizes are everything. I must defeat the other contestants." And, God forbid, they should not think like this either: "I'm better than everyone. I am the best, so I'm going to look down on you." Music is a humble thing. It is not something that can be fairly judged. Thinking this way not only puts an unreasonable amount of pressure on you, but it also shows in your playing. Imagine, someone was giving a speech about an emotional topic. If they speak from their heart, what they truly believe, it WILL move others. However, if someone is faking emotions and doesn't believe what they speak, it gives off an obvious "fake" vibe. You simply cannot hide intention, no matter how much Lang Lang-ish movements you produce.

Never expect to win something that has no standard.

Also, do not enter a competition thinking: "I shouldn't make mistakes or memory slips." They happen. To everyone. The more you think, the more pressure you will have. GUARANTEED. There is no real consequence in competitions, if you fail to bring out the best in you.

Moreover, do not use competitions as a way to settle disputes or rivalries. If there is someone you know that isn't on best terms with you in the competition, don't set your mind on "beating" them. It takes meaning out of music, and starts a "revenge" program. You aren't playing music by that point - it's a means to "Defeat" others.

If you ever enter a competition of a reasonable scale, don't fall into the traps of the thinking that I listed above. Play music, for music. Also, PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTHS. If your strength is technical perfection - great. Show it off. Choose pieces that best present your technique. If your talent is musicality and the ability to produce beautiful sound, WHO CARES ABOUT MISTAKES? Play Chopin. Play Mozart. Play anything that you think is beautiful, and that you can manage. So many people try to perfect their weakness, to try to be a all-rounder. To me, it's pointless. Treat the competition as a way to mesmerize audiences. Treat it as another experience, another step towards your goal. Use it as a way to bring out the best in yourself, while also receiving feedback about how others feel about it.

TL;DR: Choose music that corresponds with your strengths.
Play music, for the sake of music - not the rewards.

Remember the famous quote from Einstein: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Nice day to you.
Pieces I'm working on:
Beethoven op. 109
Chopin Etudes op.10
Tchaikovsky Seasons June & October
Tchaikovsky Russian scherzo op. 1 no. 1
Tchaikovsky concerto 1
Mozart K 488
Rachmaninoff sonata 2

Offline pianoplunker

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Re: The "correct" mindset for competitions - Controversial topic
«Reply #1 on: August 13, 2018, 03:10:12 PM »
Ah, the controversial topic of competitions. Why do people participate? Fame? Prize money? Performance experience? Meeting and familiarizing with the jury?

No matter the reason, people have always wondered what the point of competitions are, as it's purely subjective.

I want to discuss, in my opinion, the correct mindset going into a competition, and what it should be treated as.


First of all, let us define "mindset".
A definition I found: "the established set of attitudes held by someone."
The established set of attitudes. Hmm. Interesting.
When people go into competitions, their attitude and what they seek from the event make up their mindset. There isn't a definite CORRECT way of thinking, but there are incorrect mindsets. Absolutely.

What do competitions try to accomplish? To make money, and to select the "best" pianist. How? Is it technique? Well, not exactly. If you look at the top, prestigious competitions in the world, (Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Arthur Rubinstein, Queen Elizabeth etc.) there isn't a big gap in technique prowess between any of the performers. Really, how much technically better could one finalist be, compared to another?

So, competitions are mostly subjective to the liking of the audience and jury. There is no "standard" that says: "Oh, you must play like this, because that is the right way to do it."

One mustn't enter a competition thinking: "I must win this competition. The prizes are everything. I must defeat the other contestants." And, God forbid, they should not think like this either: "I'm better than everyone. I am the best, so I'm going to look down on you." Music is a humble thing. It is not something that can be fairly judged. Thinking this way not only puts an unreasonable amount of pressure on you, but it also shows in your playing. Imagine, someone was giving a speech about an emotional topic. If they speak from their heart, what they truly believe, it WILL move others. However, if someone is faking emotions and doesn't believe what they speak, it gives off an obvious "fake" vibe. You simply cannot hide intention, no matter how much Lang Lang-ish movements you produce.

Never expect to win something that has no standard.

Also, do not enter a competition thinking: "I shouldn't make mistakes or memory slips." They happen. To everyone. The more you think, the more pressure you will have. GUARANTEED. There is no real consequence in competitions, if you fail to bring out the best in you.

Moreover, do not use competitions as a way to settle disputes or rivalries. If there is someone you know that isn't on best terms with you in the competition, don't set your mind on "beating" them. It takes meaning out of music, and starts a "revenge" program. You aren't playing music by that point - it's a means to "Defeat" others.

If you ever enter a competition of a reasonable scale, don't fall into the traps of the thinking that I listed above. Play music, for music. Also, PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTHS. If your strength is technical perfection - great. Show it off. Choose pieces that best present your technique. If your talent is musicality and the ability to produce beautiful sound, WHO CARES ABOUT MISTAKES? Play Chopin. Play Mozart. Play anything that you think is beautiful, and that you can manage. So many people try to perfect their weakness, to try to be a all-rounder. To me, it's pointless. Treat the competition as a way to mesmerize audiences. Treat it as another experience, another step towards your goal. Use it as a way to bring out the best in yourself, while also receiving feedback about how others feel about it.

TL;DR: Choose music that corresponds with your strengths.
Play music, for the sake of music - not the rewards.

Remember the famous quote from Einstein: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Nice day to you.


Why not compete for the prize ? Competetion is a natural part of life. Might as well do anything you can to win. It is mother nature's way.  Take no prisoners ! Otherwise, dont join a competetion.

Offline louispodesta

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Re: The "correct" mindset for competitions - Controversial topic
«Reply #2 on: August 13, 2018, 10:59:07 PM »
1)  "Artur" (Arthur) Rubenstein, and Earl Wild never entered a Piano Competition in their entire lives.

2)  As it relates to his Memoir, Earl Wild (a Judge in the Cliburn Competition) states in detail exactly how these so-called "Competitions" are rigged!  Olga Kern was the Gold Medalist.  So, read his book.

Therefore, it makes no difference how you play (at a high level) in any Piano Competition.

My dear friend Fred Chiu did not make the Final Round of the Cliburn, and half of the audience walked out!  Research it for yourself.  It is true!

Then, he had to spend the next ten years in France, in order to feed himself.

So much for your precious Competitions.

Offline georgey

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Re: The "correct" mindset for competitions - Controversial topic
«Reply #3 on: August 13, 2018, 11:08:49 PM »

Therefore, it makes no difference how you play (at a high level) in any Piano Competition.

My dear friend Fred Chiu did not make the Final Round of the Cliburn, and half of the audience walked out!  Research it for yourself.  It is true!

Then, he had to spend the next ten years in France, in order to feed himself.

So much for your precious Competitions.


Fred Chiu

During his formative years, he won numerous piano competitions, including the Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin Piano Competition and the Music Teachers National Association Competition, both in 1984.

In 2000, Chiu was on the jury for the Outstanding Amateur Competition in Fort Worth, TX. He has also served on the jury for the Utrecht Liszt Competition, the E-Competition, the American Pianist Association and the World Piano Competition in Cincinnati.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederic_Chiu

I'm not saying competitions are good or bad.  Just showing Chiu involvement in them.

Offline timothy42b

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Re: The "correct" mindset for competitions - Controversial topic
«Reply #4 on: August 15, 2018, 12:33:15 PM »
I think competitions are a bit silly.  Well, really a lot silly.

But if you gotta give it a try..............live and let die. Bom bom.  Sorry, had an ear worm for a minute. 

There's only one mindset going into a competition.  Pity.

Pity for the other contestants, who don't have a chance, never had a chance. 
Tim