I tend to think of music as the opposite of a competitive sport, but it seems that the major "measure" of musical accomplishment is how musicians fare in competition. Competitions are acceptable for things that you can measure, like how fast someone can run, swim, or bike, or how high someone can jump, but accomplishment in music goes so much deeper than the superficial. Unfortunately it is the superficial elements that get judged in a competition: how cleanly someone plays, how well in tune, how flawlessly. Flawlessness seems to be the measure of musical accomplishment for even the kindest and most musical of judges. It is my experience that when flawlessness is the goal, the chance for true musical expression to enter a given performance is slim.
"Classical" musicians make up a very small percentage of the population. I think it is insane that we have to compete with one another in order to get some kind of recognition or have some kind of career as performers. I have a "no competition" clause in my personal approach to music making. I have no desire to be, or play, or write better than anyone else, but I have a deep desire to play well, to have contact with like-minded musicians, and to bring people together with music.
Young people need to have chances to perform without being judged. Young people need to have the opportunity to reach and enrich the people who are listening to them. They need to learn that music is something that unites us all. They need to learn that an honest and expressive performance of a piece accomplishes much more than winning a prize. That should be the "goal" of all musicians.
Technorati tags: classical music, music competitions