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Getting Ready for 2020 Music Competitions

Any young music student with thoughts of becoming a professional musician needs to think seriously about music competitions. They offer a rigor and opportunity impossible to find elsewhere. Participating in youth orchestras and playing solos at recitals have their own vital role in developing your stage presence and musicianship. Yet a music competition is a unique opportunity to test your mettle and meet and network with music industry insiders who can help advance your career regardless of whether you win the competition.

And winning a competition…how great is that? The immediate, tangible benefits like prize money or fellowship are great. But having a win on your musical resume is an instant credibility booster to help you land auditions with prestigious orchestras and ensembles.

Because we feel strongly about the value music competitions provide in your personal and professional musical development, we write about them a lot.  It's always competition prep season, so here's some of our best advice about how to get ready for music competitions:

Let's start with how you select which music competitions are right for you? The universe of music competitions continues to expand. This growth is beneficial because it provides more opportunities, but only if you're picking the right opportunities. You want to set yourself up for success by selecting competitions that align with your current music development goals and skill level. If you're the parent of a gifted student, there are plenty of music competitions with young age categories. Getting them acclimated to a competitive music environment at an early age may be a worthwhile goal.

Another benefit of the music competition boom is that you should be able to find multiple competition opportunities. It only makes sense to apply for numerous competitions to maximize your chance of passing the audition phase. However, it takes effort to prepare and stay organized when applying to multiple music competitions. Use our guide on managing application packet requirements, dates, fees, and all the other details to keep things straight. Sending in an audition video intended for one competition with the application packet for another is not a winning strategy!

Of course, the audition recording is the meat of your audition application. Our discussion on how to prepare an audition video for professional gigs is a font of on-point advice for competition audition videos as well. It covers issues like paying attention to the details of the competition rules,  file format to use, the sound quality of your recording. Give all your audition recordings their due when preparing them.

To reiterate how valuable participating in a music competition can be, even if you don't win, take a read through how losing a music competition can make you a better musician. We're not just blowing smoke or handing out participation trophies. Winning the competition would be amazing. But if that doesn't happen, that doesn't mean your experience wasn't valuable. Take advantage of these practical tips on how to use the competition experience to improve your technique and competition skills, as well as how to strengthen your mental game.

On to the list of upcoming competitions!

The most crucial point to remember about applying and preparing for competitions is that they have extended lead times. That means a competition scheduled for Spring will have an application deadline in Winter – at the latest. Start prepping your competition for 2020 now to make sure you don't miss any deadlines.

Elmar Oliveira International Violin Competition: Held at the Lynn University Conservatory of Music in Boca Raton, Florida, January 14 – 26, 2020. Open to violinists between 16 and 32 years old; focus on providing contestants with "long-term career development tools." Deadline: September 27, 2019.

American Protégé International Piano and Strings Competition: If you want to meet a global array of musicians, student, amateur, and professional, this is the competition. It has five age categories starting as young as five to 10 years old. It's open to piano, strings, and winds, as well as voice competitors. There is a series of Winners' Concerts held at Carnegie Hall April through June. Deadline: January 20, 2020.

Klein Competition: Sponsored by the California Music Center in San Francisco. This competition has categories for violinists, violists, cellists and bassists aged 15-23. The final competition concert is held in early Summer. Deadline: Accepts applications from November 1, 2019 through February 1, 2020.

Stulberg International String Competition:  Final competition held on campus at the Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan in May 2020. Applicants must be 19 years old or younger and play violin, viola, cello or double bass. Deadline: February 1, 2020.

Alexander & Buono International String Competition: Winners of this competition get to perform at Carnegie Hall. It has three competition categories: High schoolers, amateur adults, and college/adults who've started a professional career. Deadline: April 6, 2020.

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