This page is intended as a tutorial for teachers who are new to WMFC's Federation Festivals. You can read the entire page start to finish or jump to any specific section by choosing one from this list:
- Joining a Senior Club
- Why Should You Enroll Your Students
- Entering Students in Federation Festivals
- Federation Festival Bulletin
- Getting Students Interested in Federation Festivals
- Selecting Events
- Sample Festival Timetable
- Preparing Students
- Choosing Repertoire
- Entry Forms
- Gold Cups and Certificates
- Theory/Musicianship Event
- Adult Students
- Ideas to get the Most from Festival Participation
- Getting Additional Help
- Download Forms
One of the best ways to become involved in the Wisconsin Federation of Music Clubs is to become a member of your local senior club. You can find a list of all of the senior clubs in Wisconsin on the Senior Club Page. By joining your local senior club, you can meet other music teachers who will gladly help you in getting your students interested in Federation activities. A senior club can also provide you with an outlet to give back to your community and to improve the musical community for all teachers and musicians through arts advocacy programs.
With so many other contests and festivals vying for your student's time, you might wonder what makes the WFMC Federation Festival so unique and worthwhile. First, the WFMC Federation festivals fall at a good time in the school year. Festivals are typically held from the first weekend in February until Mid-March which means that the majority of students will be working on their pieces during December and January, which can be a difficult time to motivate students to work. Knowing that they have a deadline to face, students will be more apt to work diligently during the winter months.
The WFMC Federation Festival also offers students an opportunity to receive a critique from someone other than their teacher. Some students have heard the same message from us as teachers so many times that they have come to politely listen during lessons, but don’t take our advice to heart. Sometimes hearing this same advice from a judge is exactly what’s needed.
As students advance through the many levels of repertoire from the Federation’s Bulletin, they can see their progress in lessons. The Federation awards certificates and Gold Cup Trophies to students who participate, which provides another source of public recognition of student’s musical accomplishments.
To enter your students in your local Federation Festival, you must first contact your Federation Festival Chairman. You can find contact information for your local festival chairman on the Federation Festival page. You need to inform him or her that you are interested to enroll your students and you need to get the date when forms and dues are due, and the date of the festival.
Next, you need a rating sheet for each student. Your local festival chairperson can provide you with enough copies for all of your students, or you can download a copy at the bottom of this page and then print them as needed. You will need to compile all of your students information on a single form called the Application. You can see sample entry forms and application forms in the Download Forms section below.
You will need to collect dues and entry fees from all of your students, and then submit a single check to your local festival chairperson. Presently, dues are $2.00 per student annually, but this amount changes from time to time, so be sure to check with your district festival chairperson to ask about the current rate and the date on which dues are due. Once a student has paid their membership fee for the year, they can then enter as many events at Federation Festival as they wish.
Students are assessed an entry fee per event they enter. This fee may also change from year to year, so be sure to check with your district festival chair. Example: a student who participates in the Violin Solo and Theory/Musicianship events would thus pay two event fees, one for each event entered plus a single junior club membership fee.
Students who are ineligible to earn gold cups due to impending graduation from high school may be eligible for reduced entry fees since part of the entry fees are used to pay for gold cup trophies. Ask your local chairperson for more information.
If you are not a member of a senior club, you must pay for an individual senior membership. Presently, the fee for an individual senior membership is $20.00 but this fee is subject to change, so be sure to consult your local chairperson. Many teachers divide this fee amongst the students who are entering, and simply add a small amount on to each student's membership fees. In this way, your participation in WFMC Federation Festival costs you nothing.
The Federation Festival Bulletin is a bound and printed volume which lists the specific rules for each event as well as the required repertoire, theory/musicianship requirements, gold cup plan specifics and a lot of other crucial information about Federation Festivals. The Federation Festival Bulletin is only available from the National Headquarters of NFMC. You can order a copy for a nominal fee by calling 317-638-4003 or by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Federation Festival bulletin is updated once every three years.
Teachers who enter students in Federation Festivals are required to purchase their own copy of the Federation Festival bulletin and peruse it regularly as it is an authoritative guide and introduction to Federation Festivals. In some events, every single piece will change, while others will see only minor changes with each new bulletin.
One of the best things you can do to ensure your student's success at the WFMC Federation Festivals is to show your students what a special privilege it is to participate. If you are excited about Federation Festivals, your students will be excited too. However, if you present Festivals as boring, or a lot of unnecessary work, your students will feel that way too.
Remember that if your students are participating in Federation Festival for the first time, they will naturally approach the festival with some trepidation. Taking time to talk about what happens while they play for their judge and answering any questions they have will go a long way towards dispelling any fears they may harbor.
Talking to both students and their parents about the many benefits of participation in Federation Festivals can also get both parties on board and fired up for the big day.
Students may participate in more than on event on the day of Federation Festival. An event is one musical category, such as Piano Solo, Flute Solo, or Theory/Musicianship. The National Federation of Music Clubs offers hundreds of different events ranging from Flute Solo to Improvisation to Dance. If you are new to Federation festival, it is probably best to start off with just one or two events your first time out. A student might start off with a clarinet solo and Theory/Musicianship. Once you have experienced what a particular event demands from a student, you can make a better judgment about which students can handle participating in multiple events.
While there are many different events offered, it is generally a good idea to keep students working on a particular event year after year, because it takes a minimum of three years to earn enough points for a gold cup in any given event, and points from different events may not be combined to get a gold cup.
It is not altogether uncommon for a gifted student who wants to be challenged to participate in multiple events. A student might participate in a piano solo, hymn playing, theory/musicianship, piano concerto, and piano duet, all in one year.
(Assumes that Federation Festival is the first weekend in February. After determining your festival’s date, you can adjust the dates accordingly.)
- First week of June: Students playing concertos choose their pieces
- Third week of September: Students playing solos level Medium and up choose required and choice pieces. Students playing concertos should have their piece memorized.
- Third week of October: Students playing solos level PP (pre primary) through E4 (elementary 4) choose required and choice pieces.
- First week of November: Students playing duets and hymns choose both of their pieces. Gather student information such as first, middle, last names, titles and composers or pieces, and student’s previous federation records (i.e. how many gold cup points they have).
- Third week of November: Fill out rating sheets. This may be done during each student’s lesson to save time. Order practice theory tests from NFMC National Headquarters.
- First Week of December: Application form is due (Contact your local festival chairperson for the specific due date.)
- Week following Thanksgiving: Students playing solos should have one of their two solos memorized.
- Last Lesson before holiday break: Students should have both solos memorized.
- First week of January: Students competing in theory/musicianship event take practice tests.
- Second week of January: A great time for recitals utilizing Federation solos, concertos, etc.
- First weekend in February: Festival is held.
Many students do not clearly understand how to warm up on their instrument, or even why warming up is important. Be sure to guide your students by helping them decide how best to warm up before their performance. Scales or arpeggios are generally favored, but you may have a special warm up for your students. Don't assume that students already know how to warm up.
If this is your studio's first time participating in Federation Festival, be sure to talk to other teachers in your area to learn more about the judging standards so that you can adequately prepare your students for successful auditions before the judge.
Taking time during the lessons leading up to festival to walk your students through entering the room, warming up, playing their pieces in order, and leaving is an excellent way to simulate their contest experience. This playacting not only helps students feel more comfortable when they audition for their judge, but it also serves as a stimulus for many thoughtful questions which students might not have otherwise thought of until they face the judge.
Another excellent way to prepare students for Federation festival is to print a blank rating sheet for students to examine so they can see for themselves exactly what their judge will be looking for. Encouraging students to rate themselves in all of the appropriate categories is also a very useful exercise for most students.
Important Note: This article is intended as an introductory guide for selecting student literature for Federation Festival Entrants. It is not an exhaustive guide to Federation Festival rules, nor is it a replacement for the NFMC's Federation Festival Bulletin, which is published tri-annually by NFMC.
Students participating in a solo event (e.g. Flute Solo, Violin Solo, etc.) must perform two pieces before a judge. While the rules vary from event to event, typically one piece is chosen from the list of required pieces published in the Federation Festival Bulletin, and one piece is chosen which is specifically does not appear on the list of required pieces. The piece selected from the repertoire list is referred to as a “Required Piece” while the non-list piece is referred to as a “Choice Piece.” One of the goals of the National Federation of Music Clubs is to promote American Music and American Composers, so almost all of the composers on the required repertoire list are American. In some cases, the choice piece must have been composed by a foreign-born composer. The complete rules governing the selection of choice pieces go beyond the scope of this web site. We encourage you to purchase a copy of the Federation Festivals bulletin from the NFMC headquarters for further information on the specific requirements for choice pieces for each event.
Each event has a number of different classes or levels of difficulty. The exact number and names of classes varies from event to event, but most solo events have fifteen or more classes. A typical list of classes might look like this:
To expedite the process of filling out applications and rating sheets for students, federation members often abbreviate these classes. For example, P1 is Primary 1 while E4 is Elementary IV.
The required piece the student chooses determines the class in which he or she will participate. Students who receive a Superior rating must advance at least one class the next time they participate at a Federation Festival. Students may never move to an easier class once they have participated in a Federation Festival at a given class. This is very important to note, because it has an important bearing on which class students should be entered when they are new to Federation Festivals. Teachers are therefore cautioned not to be overly ambitious when selecting repertoire for novice students in Federation Festival.
A complete list of required pieces along with their composers, publishers, and catalog numbers appear in the Festival Bulletin, available for a nominal fee by contacting the NFMC National Office at 317-638-4003. The required repertoire list changes every three years when a new Federation Festival Bulletin is issued. The Bulletin was last published in May of 2003 and will change again in May of 2007. In some events, every single piece will change, while others will see only minor changes with each new bulletin.
For most teachers, it is not feasible to purchase a copy of every piece on the required list. However, your better local music store will offer a wide selection of many of the pieces on the required list, and most stores allow teachers to view and play through music before purchasing it.
There are a number of forms teachers must fill out to enroll their students in the Federation Festival. Please note that some of these forms are unique to the Wisconsin Federation of Music Clubs, and may not be the forms used in other states. Please check with your local festival chairman before using these forms in any state other than Wisconsin.
The most basic form you must fill out for each student is a Rating Sheet. Download a .jpg file of an example rating sheet for this year's Federation Festivals.
Please carefully observe how the information has been recorded on the example rating sheet. It is important to include your student's last name first, then first name and middle name. Including student's middle names is very important, because it is the method by which students are tracked if they move to a different teacher, district, or state.
Be sure to turn in your completed rating sheets to your district festival chairperson as soon as you are able, but definitely not later than their deadline. Your district festival chairperson has to make up a schedule for the festival, which takes several hours of work, and he or she can't start scheduling students until they have every one's rating sheets. By delaying your studio's entries, you increase the amount of time every other studio in your district has to wait for their festival times!
Filling out the multiple entry forms required for participating in Federation Festivals can be a daunting task, even for teachers with a small studio. We have come up with some suggestions which can make this process less painful (and hopefully less time consuming!)
2. Create a computerized database which contains all of your student's information: Their names, the events they are entering, the titles of their pieces, etc. You can then format this database to print on rating sheets, applications, and small certificates. Your local festival chair will appreciate your neatly printed forms and you will appreciate how little time you will spend printing all of your forms. If you have a computer in your teaching studio or a laptop, you can even enter each student's information during their lesson time which means that the only time you spend on forms for Federation Festival outside of lessons is the time it takes you to load paper or certificates into your printer and initiate printing.
Application and ratings forms for this year are now available in the Forms Download area in Excel and PDF format!
Students participating in WFMC's Federation festival receive a rating sheet with a judge’s critique of their performance and a certificate of participation, indicating the event they participated in (e.g. flute solo, piano duet, theory/musicianship, etc.) the location and date of the festival they participated in, and the rating they received from their judge. Each rating is worth a certain number of Gold Cup points. The five ratings judges may give are as follows:
- SUPERIOR (5 Gold Cup Points)
An outstanding performance which is consistently musical, stylistically correct, and accurate. Attention is given to dynamics, phrasing and musical expression. Memorization is secure with rapid recovery from minor slips. Errors do not detract from the participant’s interpretation. A complete performance.
EXCELLENT (4 Gold Cup Points)
A strong performance that is musical and stylistically correct. The performance shows accomplishment and very good potential, but there are discrepancies in rhythm, dynamics, phrasing, and/or interpretation. Hesitation and/or memory slips detract from the participant’s presentation. A promising performance.
SATISFACTORY (3 Gold Cup Points)
Shows accomplishment; however, numerous errors occur. Additional work in one or more areas needed in order to achieve a convincing presentation.
FAIR (2 Gold Cup Points)
Some commendable aspects in performance and preparation are present, but severe deficiencies in fundamentals (for example, rhythm, notes, memory, etc.) are also apparent. Not fully ready for performance.
NEEDS IMPROVEMENT (1 Gold Cup Point)
The participant is obviously poorly prepared and appears unconcerned with the performance.
As students continue to participate year after year in the NFMC Federation festivals, they will amass more and more points in the events in which they participate. When students earn a certain number of points, they earn Gold Cup Trophies. With only a few exceptions, points from different events may not be combined. For example a student who plays a flute solo may not combine her flute solo gold cup points with points she earned in the Theory/Musicianship event. When the student has earned enough gold cup points, individual trophies will be awarded for each event in which the student participated.
Second Gold Cup: 8" tall - 30 Gold Cup Points
Third Gold Cup: 10" tall - 45 Gold Cup Points
Fourth Gold Cup: 12" tall - 60 Gold Cup Points
Grand Gold Cup: 14" tall - 75 Gold Cup Points
President's Cup: 16" tall - 90 Gold Cup Points
The theory/musicianship event is held every year at Federation Festivals and is worth mentioning because it is an event which is appropriate for all students of music regardless of which instrument they play. The theory/musicianship event is a written examination which tests students's knowledge of music theory, history, notation, and instrumentation. The specific information students are required to master at each level is documented carefully in your Federation Festivals Bulletin.
Theory tests are rated in the same way solos are rated, and gold cup points may be earned in the theory/musicianship area. While points from the theory/musicianship event may not be combined with points from any other event to earn larger gold cups sooner, students will earn gold cups in theory as well as in their solo event.
Students may take as long as they wish to complete the test. There is no time limit. Most students are able to complete the test in 15-20 minutes, however. Theory tests are given at twelve levels numbered one through twelve. The usual rule about students having to advance when they earn a Superior rating applies, so teachers are encouraged to be conservative when selecting a level for students entering Federation Festivals for the first time.
Practice tests with answer guides are available for a nominal fee (usually less than $10) from the National Headquarters email@example.com or by calling 317-638-4003. You may also download these forms from the national web site. You are allowed to make as many photocopies of these tests as you require for your student's use. These tests are highly recommended since the details of how the information is presented may cause some students difficulty.
Assigning practice tests to students two to three weeks before the Federation Festival is advisable, because some students will invariably forget to do them, or will lose them, so you will want a little extra time to help to prepare your students for this event.
One of the best parts about Federation Festival is that you can enter your adult students. The rules which govern adult students are slightly different from those which govern junior participants, but generally speaking, the rules are a bit more relaxed (e.g. some events don't require memorization). Be sure to consult your copy of the bulletin for more specific information about how the rules differ for adult entrants.
Rather than earning Gold Cups, Adult students earn Silver cups (pictured to the right at the bottom of the Gold Cup section.
To encourage more students to participate in future Federation festivals, consider handing out participation certificates, consecutive gold cup certificates, and gold cups in an "award ceremony" following your spring or summer recital. Students and parents will love the recognition and public praise, and seeing those gold cups being handed out (and sitting en masse on top of your piano before the recital) does wonders to inspire the next crop of students to achieve!
Post pictures of Gold Cup recipients in your studio's newsletter or on the bulletin board in your studio. Submit a picture of this year's recipients to your local paper. Requiring all students participating in Federation Festival to participate in the theory/msuicianship event means that you will have twice the number of gold cups to hand out in your awards ceremony, and double the opportunity to recognize your student's musical excellence.
Holding studio classes or recitals using pieces for the Federation festival a couple of weeks before the actual festival can also greatly enhance your student's festival experience. Allowing students to play for each other in a group setting where there is positive and constructive group critique following each student's performance can provide a great incentive for the last minute practicers to have their pieces perfected before the day of Federation festival.
If this is your first time entering students in the Federation Festival, you are likely to have additional questions which are not answered here. There are several additional resources to which you can turn for more help:
- Federation Festival Bulletin
- Local Federation Festival Chairperson
- Experienced members of your local Senior Club
- National Headquarters (firstname.lastname@example.org)
We are also interested in hearing about questions that were left unanswered by this page. Please write to the webmaster with your questions so that additional information can be added to this page to help other teachers in the future. The webmaster may also be able to answer your question.