In our history, we’ve welcomed groups of all sizes and abilities. Whereas some festivals require a minimum number of students, that’s something that we’ve never done. Because our founders were themselves music educators (with big programs, by the way), they felt that the quality of the program was not necessarily determined by the quantity of students. And the same could be said of the reverse – just because the program is big doesn’t mean that the quality of the music is top notch.
By requiring students to undertake their music studies with the same intensity that a big program requires, you are investing in their passion. Student musicians in small programs simply cannot hide mistakes or sloppy practice habits, but they are often full of heart and the desire to improve or they would not be there. And with the focus on educating the student and offering performance and learning opportunities, small programs sometimes become larger. Nothing like success appeals to students to give music a try.
Don Gunderson, one of our most popular adjudicators and a legend in Southern California music education, says, “Conduct the band that is in front of you – not the one in your fantasy.” Each of your students deserves a teacher who believes that making music at the highest levels is the goal. No, your program may not achieve the “wall of sound” that big programs have, but the success of the program may lie in selecting appropriate literature, motivating dedicated students, and the excellence of the result.
And at Forum Music Festivals, we want to help music programs of all sizes and abilities accomplish those goals by providing an opportunity to perform in good venues and to expand their musical education with constructive feedback from adjudicators who see the spark. Success comes in all sizes. We want to be part of that effort.