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Q&A Competitions, yes or no?

Hi there,

I am a mother of an eight year old, who is currently learning the piano. His teacher is very keen in entering him at some local competitions but I am not as sure. I don't want my son to loose the joy of playing the piano, because it would become too competitive and I don't want him to be dissapointed if he doesn't win. On the other hand, he is very good for his age (his teacher's words not mine) and he was very excited about the idea of extra performances and competitions. Do you have any advice of how to approach this dilema?

Regards, Nina

Dear Nina,

Probably the easiest answer to this question is that you discuss the matter with your son. Even though he is an 8 year old, he has his own wishes and aspirations and he may be very keen to compete. Your job is to be very clear with him that he will not always win and most importantly each competition is an experience, and winning is combination of hard work, the number of experiences you already have and well, luck.

Personally I do not think competitions are a bad thing, if approached in a healthy manner. They give children the extra opportunity to perform and showcase their skills but they also teach them that being a winner means a lot of effort and hard work. As with everything in life there is a certain amount of luck as well and I don't think it is a bad thing that they are aware that sometimes the life does not care how much you worked or how much you practised. It still can happen that there is someone who practised more or just simply had a better day than you.

What happens, very frequently, is that parents are much more concerned about the competition and its results. And here is where the problem begins, because even though you will not tell them directly, they can feel your doubts. For every parent, their child is the most beautiful and the smartest human being alive. One of the most important thing is that as a parent you are able to keep a healthy view on competing and always think of it as a new experience and learning opportunity. Don't get me wrong, accepting the option of failure does not mean that there should not be any wish to win. There should be and that is always a good motivation to put in some extra work. But as with everything in life there is no guarantees.

On the positive side, competitions can be very benefitial for future academic or musical career paths, usually students who compete also achieve higher marks on exams and it definitely gives them more performance opportunities.

If you have a good relationship with the piano teacher and you trust him/her (which I hope you do) I would strongly recommend to talk through your fears and doubts as a mother (if possible try to talk with the teacher alone, without your son). Believe it or not, instrumental teachers usually do get very attached to their students, and that means that in most cases they really wish what is the best for your child. Personally I would never recommend competing to someone if I wouldn't be 120% sure they would benefit from it.

I hope this will help and wish you and your son all the best in the future!

Do you have a music related question? Email us on contact@newmaldenmusicschool.co.uk. We will replay on all questions, and non of the questions will be posted without your permission.


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