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I Want To Go To The Festival!

My last post was New Year's?! Oy... To be fair, though, it's been a bit crazy the last couple months, what with my dear brother's wedding, signing up my students for various festivals, prepping them for said festivals, Spring Break, and now we're coming upon Easter. Time sure flies when you're busy having fun! After last Tuesday, however, I knew I needed to come here and relate my experiences in a little place called Camrose, Alberta.

Way back in November or so, my Speech Studio boss asked if I might be interested in adjudicating Speech Arts at the Camrose and District Music Festival. She would not be available and thought she'd recommend me in her stead, if I was interested. My response? Heck yes! I had been presented with the possibility of adjudicating once before, not long after I completed the requirements for my teacher's diploma, but for one reason or another I wasn't able to get to that particular festival at that time. Needless to say it's been on the back burner for years and I was super excited to finally have the chance to realize a small dream of mine. I responded with gusto to Shirley and within a few days the organizers of the Camrose Music Festival contacted me with more information on what I could expect. I was ready and willing for this new chance to learn and grow, and waited anxiously for the day to come.

I say anxiously because the closer the festival got, the more nervous I got as well. I mean, I'd never adjudicated at a festival before! What was I supposed to look for? What if I was too mean? What if I was too nice? What if a performer threw something at me that I had no idea how to respond to? And on and on. Luckily Shirley had a book on adjudicating she could lend me, to help frame adjudicating within the realm of constructive criticism as a whole, something in which I am skilled. The more I read, the more clear it became that all I really had to do was trust my experience, my gut, and all those adjudications that I myself went through years prior.

Finally the time had come. I drove out to Camrose right after work, the night before my sessions, with the hope I could get a good night's sleep and could avoid sleepily driving out to Camrose the morning of. Due to a mishap on my part I had declined the hotel room the organizers offered to book me (silly, silly, Joyanne... live and learn), so I managed to stay with a friend's cousin who is in residence at the U of A's Augustana Campus. Truth be told it wasn't the best sleep of my life (darn adrenaline), but I'm so grateful for her hospitality and she definitely saved me from a brutal, early-morning drive.

The next morning it was off to the festival! I grabbed some Timmies for breakfast and made the short trek to the first location I was scheduled at. What a pleasant surprise met me there! One of the ladies from church was my secretary! Oh man, I can't tell you how nice it felt to have someone I know and who supports me by my side as I ventured out into uncharted territory. The organizers, who also met me there, were absolutely wonderful to work with as well. They made me feel so welcome by their excitement to have me there and were able to answer all my questions in a succinct and encouraging manner. By the time the performers arrived, I was therefore ready to go!

What a joy it was to watch all the performers! I had such a blast seeing the work that they had chosen to present and was pleased to see that every performer was prepared and spoke with clarity and poise. I also found that it was pretty easy to give comments that I thought could help each performer bring their presentation to the next level. Hopefully they found this to be true. The hardest part for me, truth be told, was recommending performers for awards. They all did so well that it was tough to choose who would get an award and who wouldn't. Because the festival is competitive, though, it is a necessary component that will hopefully prove to be easier with time. Crossed fingers! In the meantime I will try to just believe that I made the right decisions and leave it at that.

All in all, my first experience adjudicating at a music festival was a total blast and I'm so excited for the next time I get such a chance. Huge thanks to the Camrose and District Music Festival for having me and making me feel amazing! I hope we'll get to work together again in the future. Also special thanks to Emily for being my first secretary and for taking me out to lunch to celebrate. It was the perfect way to finish the first of what I hope to be many more adjudicating experiences.

Joyanne :D

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