Thursday, November 7, 2013

Music Competitions Gone Bad

From the world of American Country and Western music, I believe it was the late Waylon Jennings who said, “Music is not a competitive sport”.

(An interesting statement after the celebrated CMA Awards.)

Bela Bartok said,
“Competitions are for horses, not for musicians”
Even Woody Allen doesn’t take part in awards programs, saying “Art isn’t a competition.”

In recent arts news it was learned a music competition was rigged.

Big surprise, eh?

From the old game show - $64,000 Question, I think though I'm not really sure - when it was learned that the contestant has been shown the questions/answers prior to the game this is not new news.

In the music world there are competitions that have very lucrative prizes for the winners, not to mention new opportunities and bragging rights.

It was learned that in this particular music competition that the winners were the students of the chair of the "jury" (the panel of judges).

Understandably many people were outraged by this.

It really is an ethical decision to remove oneself from a judging panel if you have any connection whatsoever with a performer.


I recall a talent show I was asked to judge.  I learned after accepting the invitation that one of my choir girls was in one of the acts. I contacted the organizer and explained my concern about the situation fearing accusations of bias.  She was, after all, a very good singer and I just knew she would be one of the top acts.  It was determined by the governing board of the hosting organization that I would not voice a vote for my students' group.

I still laugh at the thought and mortification of my student's group's act.

Here I was expecting to watch a wonderful performance of my student and her friends, for, as I mentioned, she did have a great voice.

Imagine my reaction when she and her friends came out on stage and proceeded to perform a dance of sorts to Madonna's song "Hanky Panky" with a key lyric "spank me" repeated several times. At one point in the performance they pulled red scarves from their tops and proceeded to ...well, I think you get the idea.

Oh, I forgot to tell you they were wearing black spandex pants with matching sports bras leaving very little to the imagination.

It was a nightmare! 
The men in the audience loved it.

Anyway, I am glad that I did not have to make any decision on that group for more reasons than my knowing the performer.

I learned a lesson that night that I have never forgotten.

Always preview whatever one's students are going to perform on a stage - even if you have nothing to do with the program!


In this day of American Idol, The Voice, X Factor, the Sing Off, etc we are well aware of those broadcast music competitions. Obviously they work because look at the ratings for the programs and how they seem to multiply.

Don't get me wrong, music competitions do have their benefits for the performer. However, it is always recommended to look into the competition before entering to make sure it is on the up-and-up.  Look to see who is sponsoring it. Look to see who is on the panel of judges.  Do your homework.

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