Update from the Spring Festival

If you have been following me on twitter (and hopefully you have!), then you know I’ve been at some MAMTG… thing… all day. But what does that even mean? What on earth is MAMTG (pronounced Mam-tag by yours truly), and why are there so many accordions around?

MAMTG stands for the Mid-Atlantic Music Teachers Guild, and it is an organization of music teachers from all across the tri-state area. It is a professional organization, and their big yearly event is the Spring Festival held, not surprisingly, in the Spring time. This year, it is the first weekend of April (right now! I am actually writing this from the hotel lobby, with the occasional sounds of accordion music wafting through). The festival features vendors selling music themed gifts, an entire room devoted to accordions, and competitions on every instrument, including voice, a battle of the bands, and separate piano and keyboard categories.

As I understand it (so maybe this is not 100% accurate), the MAMTG rose from the ashes of the ATA, the Accordion Teachers Association. At its height, there were thousands of accordion players involved in competition. The accordion has faded from prominence in this new organization, but still features. It seems like only a handful of accordion students compete, but this year there was an entire room dedicated to accordion vendors and demos, and of course, Saturday night features an Accordion Extravaganza!!! (Actually, they are just calling the event “Mary and Friends” as it is a performance honoring Mary Tokarsky, but I think Accordion Extravaganza is a MUCH better name). So. An accordion performance stuck in the middle of a weekend dominated by piano and voice competitions. Seems a little out of place, until you learn that tidbit of history.

Miss Anna, what are you doing at a competition anyway? Yes, it’s true. I hate competition. I think there is too much opportunity for a healthy competition to turn into some ugly, aggressive and stressful, but I never, ever, ever present it that way to my kids. It is not a competition against other students, it is not a race. What it really is is a competition against yourself, and a challenge to not let you get the better of yourself.

I never focus on trying to make my kids better than anyone else, I focus on making them the best versions of themselves. They wake up every morning with the ability to be 110% awesome in performance. And then all these little things happen to make them distracted and to get them nervous. We work on not-letting-the-nervous-monster-scare-us just as much as we work on our music. We really work hard at being the best us we can be, without even paying attention to any other performer in the room.

I know that not every single one of my students will come home with a 1st or 2nd place trophy. Well, I think they deserve trophies, but I know, the reality of the matter is they will not get them. BUT. Every year, my students are dedicated to competing again, no matter what. Because we don’t focus on the competition so much as we just focus on being awesome in front of a crowd of strangers, which, I can tell you from personal experience, can be really, really hard, but really, really rewarding when done correctly, no matter what silly trophy you may or may not bring home.

So that’s where I am. I hate competitions, but I’m at one. There are lots of accordions but not much of an audience for it (too bad, people are really missing out). There will be some more live tweeting, I’m sure, but I know that once we get to the awards announcement part of the banquet, I might just be too busy being excited for our students to tweet. I kind of love when real life gets in the way of my online life.