Why Flute Festivals?
Pros: A bigger goal to work towards. Gives students a performing experience in front of others besides their studio peers. Provides an opportunity for feedback from other teachers. Strengthens memorization skills (when required). Sense of accomplishment.
Cons: Can create more stress for students and more work for teachers (but it’s worth it).
Last week we held our 24th annual Utah Valley Flute Festival. Many years ago, a flute friend of mine had the idea to start a festival where the students could perform without a requirement to memorize. She felt that memorizing gave some students too much pressure. Sitting in the living room of another friends home, the three of us brainstormed ideas of how we could set it up. That was the beginning of the non-profit Utah Valley Flute Festival.
The Utah Valley Flute Festival (UVFF) runs pretty much the same as it did 24 years ago with only two main changes. First, we started off with giving ratings but then after a few years, we decided to make it a “comments only” festival. Second, all of our communication has changed from snail mail to email, which has been great and saved us time and money.
There are pros and cons to different types of festivals. That’s what I like about the two festivals I have my students participate in each year. UVFF is open to flutists of all ages, and is intended to be a low-key, positive performance experience. Students play one piece from traditional flute repertoire and memorization is not required. They receive comments from 3 judges, a participation certificate, and a small trophy.
The Federation Flute Festival is organized through the National Federation of Music Clubs. It is also intended to be a positive performance experience. The difference for this festival is that students play 2 pieces, one from the required list which has to be memorized and one choice piece in which memorization is optional. It used to be that they had to memorize both pieces. In addition, the choice piece cannot appear on the required list.
The rest is similar. You must perform with accompaniment, if it isn’t for solo flute. There are three judges. You have to provide an original for the judges. (Although with Covid, we’ve had slight adjustments to that. Each teacher brings their own music with the measures numbered so comments can be more specific.) With Federation, you have to earn Superior ratings 3 years or accumulate 15 points for your first trophy. For each set of additional 15 points, you earn a bigger trophy.
The best part about festivals is seeing the progress that students have made throughout the year. It’s even been rewarding seeing how other teachers’ students have progressed as well. And, as with all performances, it’s not the final product that’s the most important. The most value is what you have learned throughout the process. Next time you have a chance to participate in a flute festival, go for it. It’s a wonderful opportunity to share your talent!