Music Teacher's Helper Blog

Piano Competitions – An Open Letter to Students

1819medalDear student,

I am writing this letter to you because I am thinking about your upcoming piano competition. You have worked so hard for this and I want to let you know first and foremost how proud I am that you will be performing in this event. As your teacher, I am so happy you will have the opportunity to play in front of seasoned judges and other accomplished pianists.

Have you ever watched the Olympic Games on TV? The best athletes from all over the world get together to compete for the Gold Medal. Those athletes must have trained so hard, and they must have been the best from their country in order to be chosen to represent that country. Yet at the end of the game, there can only be one Gold Medalist.

Piano competitions are sort of like that. All the competitors are the best students from their teacher’s studio, but because it is a competition, the judges must select only one person to receive First Prize, Second Prize, and so on. It does not mean those not selected to win a prize are not good. Sometimes the person that gets First Prize is indeed the very best and really deserves it. Usually, however, it just means that particular person played that particular piece the best that particular day, on that particular piano, in that particular hall, for that particular judge. On another day, at a different venue, using a different piano, with a different judge, a different student may very well be selected as the First Prize winner instead. What matters the most is not who wins and who doesn’t. What matters is that you have graciously accepted the challenge, set a goal for yourself, worked hard to master a difficult piece of music, and improved so much from the experience.

Should you win a prize, I will be so happy for you. Should you not win a prize, I will still be happy and so proud of you! Competitions are not for everyone; some people excel in these conditions, some don’t. I know that you will learn to perform your best under pressure, accept criticisms from judges, appreciate other pianists’ fine work, and most of all, you will learn more about yourself.

This is but one tiny event in your life. You will face other competitions in life, and most of them probably will not even be related to music. No one wins all of the time. It will feel so amazing to win, but we also need to learn to acknowledge and celebrate other people’s success. I am so proud that at your young age, you are going to experience and learn to deal with such mature emotions. It will build character, and make you more special than you already are!

So, good luck to you! Get up there and share beautiful music with others. Tell a story through your music. In my heart you are already a winner and I could not be more proud to have a student like you!

With much love,
Your piano teacher

About the Author

Yiyi Ku
Yiyi Ku is a pianist and teacher. Born in Taiwan, she grew up in New Zealand and obtained her Master of Music degree with Distinction in Composition and Piano Performance from the University of Canterbury. Yiyi also holds a Licentiate in Piano Performance from the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. She is a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music in Piano from Music Teachers National As... [Read more]


  1. Kerri Green

    I loved this post! I think I’ll send it to some of my students who have been or will be competing this spring.

  2. Rebecca

    This is beautiful letter. My heart exactly. Thank you for posting.

  3. Piano

    I appreciate you sharing this article.Thanks Again. Much obliged.

  4. Yiyi

    Rebecca, Piano: Thank you for taking the time to comment!

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