I went to a piano conference last week. I'm re-energized! I needed that conference as much as a dehydrated man needs water in a desert. (Okay, look at that last sentence. Do you see why I hate taking days off of writing?)
There was quite a bit of talk about competitions (insert proper reference to Yohaved Kaplinsky of Julliard), and I was surprised at how much it applied to writing competitions.
The similarities: No matter how well-designed a competition is, it cannot produce an artist unless an artist enters. No matter how perfect the scoring system or competition format, the competition will never will be perfect. Judges and entrants alike are human, and are fallible.
The differences: In the piano world, one needs competitions if you are above the age of eighteen and are not already well-connected with conductors, getting concerts, and gigging with the major orchestras.
In the writing world, there are a plethora of opportunities and possibilities that exist outside of competitions to make a career.
In the writing world, you get comments and can learn in a competition. In the piano world, only some competitions give comments--mostly just competitions for younger kids.
Interestingly enough, musicians and writers in both worlds are turning to small presses and small venues, in order to build an audience.
Interesting Tidbits: They've done studies! (I don't know where.) The optimal ranking for the fairest scoring is 1 to 25. However, each judge is different. Some judges won't give anything below 5, because that would be too insulting. Some just don't believe that anything is perfect, so they won't give out anything above 23 or 24. Those factors shrink the 25 spread down to 17.
So, at Case Western University, some math whiz professor took the median score of each judge and made a program that would convert it (and all the other scores) proportionally to 12.5, and spread out their scores from 1 to 25. That way each judge is basically using all twenty-five numbers.
Also, 11 to 13 judges is the optimal number for a jury.
I'm tired from traveling, so that's all for today. How was everyone's week? I can't wait to catch up on all the blogs!