ahs competition levels

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    As someone who started playing the harp at the age of 15, I want to

    speak up for those of us who didn’t or couldn’t start when they were

    12 or younger. The AHS competitions have always been oriented to

    people who start before a certain age, perhaps 13 or so. I think it

    should be based on years of study, not age, or there should be a

    second category for those who start after age 14. It’s not fair for a

    17-year-old whose played for, say, 3 years to compete agains someone

    17 who’s been playing for 10 years or more. It denies valuable

    experience in competing to too many young harpists. This won’t change

    unless enough members demand a change in rules. With a new chairman of

    competitions, maybe it is possible now. Then we can work on their

    choosing better music for the required repertoire. Enough music by

    19th-century harpists, already. Let’s move into the 20th, or 21st

    century, and into music by fully-fledged composers.



    I also agree with this, the competition levels need to be adapted to how modern students are studying.


    Basing competition levels on years of study wouldn’t work at all.


    Who need the competitions any way!It is never right judging.its good only for an experience of learning a big repertoire by heart.Music is not important there-it’s sport-faster and boring


    Id have to strongly disaggree with you, sverdlov. Competitions are not only a good way to get students to practice more, but it gives great soloistic experience which could be invaluable to the student’s performing career, if they so choose to go into the performing feild.

    I aggree with both of you Carl and Saul. I think its a great notion to have the levels judged by experience, but i dont think it would work. I unfortunately can’t relate, since i started when i was 9, but i DEFINETELY see where youre coming from.


    Under the right circumstances, competitions can be a good thing.


    I’m glad some of you agree.

    Teachers can provide documentation of length of study time. As for differing abilities due to age, I think talent will tell the difference. I only saw this as happening for teen years which should cut out the gap in ages.

    If a teen has been studying for three years and is sixteen, then they should be able to compete against a thirteen or fourteen year old who’s been playing for six years or more, and is old enough to play with some maturity. Everyone develops so differently, then the musical categories can’t possibly correspond to an age group. Prodigious types or those who simply have high manual dexterity are not better than those who develop at their own pace. Slow and steady is supposed to win races!

    As for repertoire, I would have them stop as I said, requiring so much music by harpists, specifically, Grandjany, Tournier, Hasselmans and Renie. And I don’t want to hear people attempting Salzedo if they don’t know how to do it or read his notation.

    Here’s some suggested repertoire for students of six-to-eight year’s study:

    Debussy: Arabesque No. One, and En Bateau or Clair de Lune

    Isadore Freed: Promenade

    Dussek: Two Sonatinas or Sonata in C Minor

    Rota: Sarabande and Toccata

    Pierne: Impromptu-Caprice

    I don’t mind an occasional piece by Grandjany, but it depends which one. I favor his Pastorale, Automne, Divertissement, Frere Jacques and most of the Children’s Hour.

    Another possibility is to not count years below age eight.

    I did envision or suggest simply creating an additional category for teens who start later than age twelve. After entering college they can join the general categories.

    Some of Salzedo’s pieces are more suitable to any harpist. These include: pieces from the Art of Modulating

    Prelude in the Nature of an Octave Study

    Prelude for a Drama

    Preludes for Beginners

    Variations on a Theme in the Old Style (must be full-length)


    Jeux d’Eau

    Paraphrases on folk songs (Turkey Strut, Jolly Piper, Traipsin’ Thru Arkansaw, etc.)

    and his Transcriptions.


    Surely competitions by their very nature are not egalitarian- and neither is the world of performance.


    Maybe I will organize one, but the reason for adjusting the AHS competition is that it is the main one for students and the best-known. As the foremost competition it should lead the way in including more students, which will only enrich the talent pool. And enriching the talent pool of winners will ultimately enrich your concert experience as the harpists you hear will be coming from more sources. But do you only go to hear competition winners? I have never found them to be the best artists or performers. They are the most mechanical, by rote, and least artistic as those are not qualities enhanced by learning preselected repertoire and playing it as fast as possible to show off. I like the idea of self-selecting levels, but then what is there to push you ahead? It is important to take on challenges, to leap ahead sometimes in repertoire.

    Evangeline Williams

    I didn’t start the harp until high school, and wasn’t a performance major in college, so the competitions will never be something for me.


    Competitions and auditions…yeek!!


    Words of wisdom if ever I heard them, James! Thanks so much for sharing this.


    What if you could join any category you wanted to? Then the value of the prize would be commensurate with your pride and work. I think people would naturally find the right categories where they fit in without humiliation. Thank you for relating your experience with Miss Lawrence. I would also suggest arriving in a foreign country at least a week prior, so if you get sick on the plane, which seems to happen a lot, you have some time to recover. I wish she’d encouraged more people to enter competitions, but some of us seem more special I guess. I seem to remember seeing Jim perform the Flothuis for a ballet company, did that really happen?



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