Many festivals are held around the world, and students are eager to share their talents—and learn something along the way.

The stage sits dark and quiet, the crowd waiting in anticipation. The lights suddenly come up; a beat plays, followed by an accent of brilliant chords and notes. When the score ends, the audience applauds and the judges scribble down their comments. This is a music festival, or at least part of it, and it’s a dream for many student bands across the country.

What to look for in a music festival

Hundreds of music festivals take place throughout the year all over the country. There are a lot of factors to consider when trying to select one, the first being what level of contest the band is looking for. Music festivals range from exhibition or performance, to non-competitive, to competitive.

“The real question for us is to find out whether the client is into the competition part of it or more into the adjudication part of it,” says Bruce Rickert, president of Peak Performance Tours. “Are they looking to get comments, are they looking to have a clinic, are they looking to beat the other ten concert bands? What is their mindset?”

For those bands looking to take home a trophy, it’s essential to find festivals with bands that measure up to your band’s skill level. The serious groups want to contend against the very best, and it is a smart idea to speak with festival organizers to determine how many bands partake in each festival, the different categories offered and the level of competition.

“It’s really about talking to the festival companies and asking ‘are you expecting 20 bands…or two bands at your program,’” says Rickert. “If you’re really into competition, you want to see quality bands that are comparable to you.”

Of course, competition comes with the territory, with about 90% of festivals having a competitive component. There are, however, other aspects that make music festivals even more special and influential for young musicians, as Rickert alludes to, such as educational workshops and non-competitive ratings from judges. After the performance is over, some festivals will hold clinics with adjudicators, giving the student bands an opportunity to hone their skills, ask questions and improve their overall experience…

By Vanessa Day

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