AMI Piano Competition – April 17th, 2016 – CANCELLED

Piano Competition Specs:

    • Annual Piano Competition – Register Early
    • Competition Date – April 17th, 2016
    • Ages – 5 – 18 years old
    • Repertoire – 1 piece/movement – level appropriate (up to 10 minutes)
    • To be considered for prize placement… contestants must perform from memory & play piece in it’s entirety
    • Application Fee – $35 (pay here)
    • Time slots are given only after Application Fee is paid
    • Application deadline April 15th

Prize and Awards:

    • – 1st Prize – $400
    • – 2nd Prize – $125
    • – 3rd Prize – $75

Note: All prize winners must perform in order to receive prize and award at the AMI Violin/Piano Competition – Memorial Winners Concert on May 22nd at 2pm. Laureates are also invited to perform at the Memorial Concert.

Competition Address – AMI’s Clarendon Hills Campus, located at 60 55th St. in Clarendon Hills, IL on the corner of 55th St. and Rte 83, inside Christ Lutheran Church. After registration, there are no refunds for cancellation or no-shows, and no competition times will be held before registration and registration fee is received.

+ View past competition winners and laureates, click here….

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Preparing Yourself for Competition

Within a month of the piano competition, it’s important that the music is basically learned, memorized, and pretty much up-to-tempo. Look for inspiration outside the practice room. Perhaps you’ve read an interesting book, or walked outside in the freshly fallen snow! How can these different scenes be “re-created” in your music? Have you recently experienced something very sad in your life? Spark that imagination!

Now’s the time to start “visualizing” the actual performance. How do you want the piece to sound? What will be special about your interpretation? You might want to tape-record yourself often to have an “objective” ear truly hear the piece. Perform the music as MUCH AS POSSIBLE for “friendly listeners” such as a grandparent or a best friend, or a “video-camera audience.”

Now how to practice.  You should always vary your practice techniques, sometimes with the metronome, sometimes without. Try unusual ways of playing, too, to test memory. For example, if the piece uses pedal, try it without pedal a few times. Try playing “backwards” by section. If there are spots that are not physically comfortable in your body, any awkward fingerings/elbow adjustments/torso adjustments, fix these things now. Often, problems in performances stem from not feeling comfortable at the instrument.  Continue to drill difficult sections even if you feel you have mastered these tricky spots.

A piece is never memorized “once and for all.” Memory work takes constant work and review.

Our brains memorize several different ways. We memorize through hearing, through seeing (the page and the keys) and through a type of “memory muscle” which is like a habit.  People who just play a piece over and over using the book, then suddenly try the piece from memory are using this type of memory. They have never consciously memorized the piece, engaging the brain in other ways.

Once a piece is memorized, go back and practice using the music at least one time in each practice session. In order to assure a successful performance, you must “analyze” the music constantly. What’s alike? What’s different? What interval is formed between the 2 hands? Is that a I-V7-I progression or a I-IV-I? The pedal changes once a measure in the first phrase, but twice a measure in the 2nd phrase. Where’s the climax or loudest part of the middle section? There are an endless number of questions.

Can you “visualize” the piece silently  away from the piano? I like to call this last one “ghost practice” where you sit quietly at a chair or table and pretend to play the piece in your head.

It’s also important that you always include at least one “performance practice” in each practice session. If you are to be playing the piece from memory, close the music so you’re not tempted to peek. Imagine the judge (or judges, or audience) sitting in the room with you. If you’re not sure of what to expect, then try to imagine all sorts of different settings. If your teacher can explain what type of piano you’ll have, what type room etc., then picture this setting in your head. Enter the room (practice/pretend handing the judge your music, opened to the correct piece), then walk to the piano. Place your hands in your lap and gather your composure. Set your tempo silently in your head and hear the first few notes to know the sound quality you’re listening for. Get in the mood of the piece before starting. This will take several seconds or maybe even a few minutes. Don’t worry about the time. When you’re ready, pre-count, and begin. Perform the entire piece from beginning to end without stopping to correct anything. If you have a memory slip, keep going…even if you just play the RH for awhile, or the LH alone, or even if you have to skip to the next section or the last chord. Then, place you hands in your lap. Stand (and bow, if there’s an audience), and leave the stage/room with a sense of triumph, satisfaction and poise.

sitting on the back row!