Lot of interesting threads on the forum about contests. I like it, I find the discussions pretty interesting. I have never entered a fiddle contest or other music contest, doubt I ever would. I have watched a couple. In particular I enjoy the Deer Creek Fiddle convention in Maryland. Their rules are here: http://www.commongroundonthehill.org/deer-creek-rules.html
I enjoy watching the competitors. The nervous anticipation, followed by the relief of the competitors when then finish their piece. Followed by tense excitement as they wait for the judges decision.
Anyway....thoughts about music competitions..
...I like the jamming at fiddle conventions for sure. One time, (not at a convention) I got to play mandolin with a fellow who had won first place in a few Banjo competitions. (Bluegrass style). He could really rip through some fancy banjo tunes...but...could barely figure out a 1-4-5 progression and could not play back up or improvise hardly at all....good competitor, not so good at actually making music. Kind of a weird human jukebox.
I once got to take a workshop with a really amazingly good Scottish fiddler. She told me about a tune she was working up for a competition. She said she really liked competitions because it forced her to (in her words) "Really Live with a tune for awhile." She enjoyed really focusing and knowing a tune for months. I always thought that was a good idea. to "Live with a tune". Personally, I have a hard time sticking to one or two tunes for months...I jump around too much. But..I'm sure it would be good for me. (I have probably seen more Scottish Fiddle Competitions then other styles...I like Scottish/Celtic festivals...they always have good beer and food.)
One time I was taking a weekend long fiddle workshop in Galax, Va. At one break, the subject came up of "Flat Foot Dancing competitions". One young lady remarked that you really got to know what you are doing, as the judges know Flat Footing. A young boy there, maybe 12 or 13, who was a really talented fiddle player laughed and said in all seriousness: "Last year I took second place..and I had never even done it before in my whole life!" Made me laugh.
I guess competitions can be fun, though personally, I take little stock in them. I can't see the point in competing in music, that's just my opinion. They can be way to get people to show up to festivals an such, which is a good thing. To others they are a way to hone skills, to some others, they are just a fun thing to do, to a lot they are serious business..
I'm curious what some folks here think of music competitions. Do they really have any merit, other then a fun pastime?