Online Competitions: The New Adventure
A Message from the Head of Jury, Assoc. Prof. Dr Andrew Filmer, PhD, MMus
What unusual times we live in. Going into a second year of being apart from friends and fellow musicians certainly has its challenges. It also has opportunities: technology has become a part of everyday life, and we are all honing new skills to keep up with education and in keeping alive our relationships with friends and family.
The Euroasia competition is part of that new adventure. While we wish we could we could hear you live, I do believe that in having an online event for a second year, there are new things to learn that can become part of the skillset of every musician. This will be useful even when this pandemic is over and we can all gather once again in concert halls.
The most unusual, even awkward part of submitting videos isn’t figuring out the technology – it’s the strangeness of playing without an audience, and of creating an artificial environment within your home. I recall seeing video submissions and wondering whether that was the first (and only!) time some of you would wear shoes inside the house. Nonetheless, in addressing that challenge, you’re building a skill: a focus on the music, and your role in it, is far more important than worrying about whether there’s a live audience. I hope you keep that skill, because it’s useful when there’s a full concert hall rather than an empty living room – the focus is the same: on you making and enjoying music, and not worrying about an audience (or judges).
That being said, make the most of your living room. I encourage you to have an audience, even if it’s just your parents and even pets. It’s fine to applaud, and it is also worthwhile to acknowledge your pianist, just like you should in a live concert environment. Please don’t cut off the video right after the last note is played: let it ring in the air, whether or not your camera can pick that up.
And just like a real concert, it’s important to convey a musical personality, even though everyone in the room already knows you. Be careful with having too wide a camera angle where we can’t see this being conveyed (we don’t actually have to see whether you’re wearing shoes). And in preparation, take short samples and review them before recording the whole recital. To teachers out there: make sure the student has a say in whether the recording is going well before you and parents join in the conversation. This is a valuable opportunity for students to learn to self-evaluate in ways that we haven’t had as often in the past. And my last bit of advice: don’t aim for perfection, re-starting the recording if there’s a small mistake. While we of course consider accuracy, I would rather have an energetic young player with a couple of minor mistakes, than a tired one with technical perfection.
I hope that you enjoy this new adventure. There are certainly unknowns in the path ahead, but I always like a good mystery, and I wish you the best in your journey.
Dr Andrew Filmer