By Rhonda Barfield
When I taught at Truman State University’s Preparatory Program, I helped organize an onsite contest for the 100+ kids in our studios. As a teacher at Beverly Milder’s Musical Arts (in Chesterfield) for four years, my students were involved in Piano Guild’s contests every spring.
Eric and I think competitions and festivals are important, but we're not entirely happy with the criteria and the structure of most of them. For that reason, a few years ago we created our own in-studio contest. In 2013, we upgraded to our first off-site event, called the Next Big Thing.
We like the idea of combining 1) a festival, where students are evaluated by a judge in a non-competitive way, and 2) a competition, where both judges and the audience pick six top players.
NBT's third year moves us into a digital mode. Same ideas, same festival, same competition, but now, totally online. Our students will record their pieces during lesson times the last week of April.
We're excited about this next direction. We think the Next Big Thing really is just that.