Students who recently competed in the Southwest Regional MTNA competition share what they learned from their experiences
Competitions are a significant component of a music major’s education. Recently, School of Music students participated in the Regional and National Young Artist Woodwind Division of the Music Teacher National Association (MTNA) competition.
After winning the Woodwind Division of the National Federation of Music Clubs Student Collegiate Competition last year, Catherine Boyack proved her talent once again by placing first at the MTNA regional competition. Boyack had the opportunity to compete at the national level which which took place in March at the MTNA National Conference at Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
As one of seven woodwind competitors going into the final, Boyack competed alongside all types of woodwind instruments. She performed a 40 minute program including five separate pieces spanning four different musical eras.
“I want to show the judges that I am able to do it all,” Boyack said. “Competing can be kind of nerve-racking, but in the end, I just want to represent myself well. Anything can happen in competition, unexpected circumstances can arise, instruments can be faulty and judges can have completely different opinions. So really, if I give my best, I have done my job.”
In addition to Boyack, BYU’s flute department fared well at the state level with Katie Worsham in second place. April Clayton, professor of flute performance, said, “We have a very strong flute studio all the way around. We always have multiple students winning competitions and getting into top graduate programs.”
Also at the Southwest Regional Competition, BYU quintet “Kyli and the Winds” placed third in the Young Artist Woodwind Chamber Division. The group consists of Kyli White on horn, Jamie Sharp on flute, Christian Tran on oboe, Rebekah Kjar on clarinet and Michelle Fletcher on bassoon.
“We all began playing together during our junior year,” White said, “just because we were friends and thought it would be a lot of fun.”
While students may benefit from winning, taking home a prize is not the only reason to compete. Competing requires an enhanced focus and intense preparation.
“The preparation process is when students can really grow as performers and musicians,” Clayton said. “Another advantage to participating in competitions is the very fact they sometimes turn out unexpectedly helps you develop a thick skin. As a performing artist, you are going to need that.”
White shared what she has learned from competing. “Being in a competing chamber group creates a lot more pressure when we’re preparing pieces. In performances and with large ensembles, there is no real consequence to making mistakes or getting lost. With this group, if I mess up I don’t have four other horns in my section to cover me, so everything has to be very solid. No one wants to be the weak link in the group.
“Competitions are great performance practice and they teach you how to manage your time and prepare. The most effective way to become a great performer is to play for people as often as possible in varying environments.”