Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Preparing for Guitar Juries

Like many schools of music Radford University students in applied study encounter juries at the end of their term. And as the term is just a few weeks away part of my teaching plan involves 'Mock Juries'. Mock juries are just what the name implies, running through the paces of a jury (a presentation of technique, memorized repertoire and sight-reading--and in some semesters improvisation).  Without grade or penalty this exercise in 'rehearsing' a jury but only in front of the private applied teacher gives the student a moment of reflection on where they stand; taking a moment to step back from the daily work and see the larger picture with respect to the entire semester.

A reality check is needed in some cases and I find the exercise of 'Mock Jury' to be just the tool needed.  Although taking place in the environment of the private studio sans adjudicating colleagues the process injects just enough seriousness to allow for a more objective and heightened awareness for the preparing student.

In most cases students find that if they've been diligent, consistent and engaged in their practice and in taking opportunities to perform their works on weekly masterclasses, guest artist masterclasses and in sight-reading/ improvising throughout the semester the exercise of the 'Mock Jury' brings greater confidence as they move forward towards the actual jury.  For those who discover that they are not on track for the jury, it gives them an opportunity to ramp up their work.

The best preparation, therefore, contains a minimum of the following ingredients:

  • A clear, consistent and diligent practice regimen
  • setting clear goals relative to:  semester, month, week, day
  • listening to and responding positively to criticism
  • performing in studio or performance classes (at least monthly)
  • keeping a journal on a daily basis where the above goals are written and assessed on a regular basis
  • seeking performance opportunities outside the classroom (coffee houses, clubs/organizations, house events, etc.)
  • if you are one who experiences performance anxiety seek more performance opportunities not less. Consider taking classes in meditation, yoga, tai chi, etc. Do some reading on the subject. Numerous books of excellent quality exist on the subject of performance anxiety
  • Last and not least, take care of yourself. You are an athlete and athletes need to stay stay health and get rest as well as staying in top physical and mental shape. Develop and Maintain good habits!
More anon...

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