10 tipps : classical guitar competitions

1.) Never bore the jury!

2.) Learn and practice at home to tune your guitar fast and precise
In times of almost invisible clip-on-tuners there is no excuse to play on a
desasterly tuned instrument

3.) Learn to adjust all your “tools” quickly!

Chair, supports, armsocks, pieces of leather, nobody wants to see a five minutes slapstick show!

4.) Dress with brain!

Meaning authentically, but visibly chosen with care. If your baggypants and sneakers are part of your established image that might work, but never forget: It is a stage and you are presenting always your attitude to what you are doing. And the jury has to watch you for sometimes many minutes! Also strange is evening makeup and long dress in the early morning, but the basic rule is: Better over- than underdress, it is your profession and you should show that you are a professional and that you understand the rules of stage.

5.) Respect the timelimits!
It is also not fun for the jury when they have to stop you! And those last seconds where you squeezed in a short piece will probably not change the judgement. So be honest when preparing: Add in your counting 30-60 seconds to each piece/ movement for adjusting yourself and the guitar, breathing, creating silence, then you will know the real length of your program (attention to points 2 and 3 on this list!)

6.) Choose pieces the jury might not know!

see point 1

7.) Choose pieces the jury knows!
it is easier for them to judge..

8.) Choose your free pieces in big contrast to the obligatory pieces!
The jury has to listen to the obligatory pieces dozen of times, so offer something not just different from the epoque but really different in mood ( see point 1!)
Or for the daredevils: make a homogenous “concept program”.., but think and don’t just play what you know well or what everybody plays.

9.) Don’t take it personal!
Results in competitions have always an aspect of luck: If you are an unknown top-player and you play first, you might not get highest points, because the judges need to keep some space left for the ones to come later. If you play after a famous competition monster you might get less points than you deserve. If you play after five desaster players you might get more points than you should get. Etc. Never forget: Judges are human beings – and they are trying to do their bests and to be fair and supportive to good music ( written with my personal idealism and sadly as unproven rumours say not always true…)

10.) Have fun!
The magic time in your life when you play competitions is challenging, you work like crazy, you meet wonderful collegues, sometimes you play terrible, sometimes perfect, sometimes you loose, sometimes you win, but as a musician you always learn so much: To perform under superpressure, to survive crazy travellings, to practice sensefully in a hotel where you hear 24/7 somebody else practicing the obligatory pieces, when to rest, when and how to work, how you should have prepared and how to prepare better next time .. and when to party!!!

Author: Heike Matthiesen

classical guitarist

6 thoughts on “10 tipps : classical guitar competitions”

  1. In regards to your comment about not boring the Jury, was this strictly in terms of repertoire choice? I found it an odd tip because what performer serious enough to be competing doesn’t have the goal of making their music exciting and emotionally arousing as their number 1 priority. Also, boring is a very subjective term. How do you find players tend to bore juries in ways that could have been avoided? Otherwise, really great tips! Appreciate your insight from experience.


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