Monday, May 2, 2011

Testing musical knowledge: Lincoln’s District Music Festival

Last Saturday, music teachers and students filled the classrooms and hallways of Nebraska Wesleyan University’s Rogers Fine Arts building for the annual Lincoln District Music Festival. According to the LMTA website, “The Nebraska Music Teachers Association sponsors annual music festivals for serious young musicians throughout the state. Festivals consist of performance of prepared repertoire and scale requirements for a competent adjudicator. In addition, students will take an ear training and written test in theory and musicianship.”
As usual, upwards of 250 students participated in the festival this year. Volunteer teachers were busy monitoring tests, checking-in students, and grading tests throughout the day. The festival is important to give students the opportunity to perform for judges and experience the nervousness of performance while at the same time having the opportunity to learn from the constructive criticism that the judges have to offer.

Besides the experience of performing, students are required to test their aural skills and knowledge of music theory. It is important to emphasize ear-training and theory because the knowledge of these will enhance the students’ musical experiences and abilities throughout their careers and lives.

The levels consist of 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, and so on up to 4B. Students are not divided into these levels by age, but rather by how many years they have been studying piano. The ear-training and theory tests are more difficult in each level, as are the scales and sight-reading requirements. Repertoire should be more difficult, and is selected by the teacher and student well in advance of the festival.

Students and teachers put in a great deal of work and whether the students earn a rating of 1 (superior), 2 (excellent), or 3 (fair), they can learn a great deal from the experience and look forward to next year.

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