Today’s guest post is from Fran Kick, professional speaker, author and division head of the Leadership Weekend Experience at the Music for All Summer Symposium presented by Yamaha. Fran Kick also co-presents the Future Music Educators’ Experience during the Grand National Championships.

 AG 4062 copy

Learning week to week – the real competition!

Are you better today than you were yesterday? Did you do anything to improve what you do and how you do it? That’s the real competition! It has very little to do with what the judges may say, the scores may show, or an audience appreciates. The real competition is improving yourself!

So what could you do to make sure you’re learning week to week? Well here are a few things you can try:

Find yourself one of those inexpensive hand-held audio recorders – the kind the judges use. Record yourself in two different settings: one in rehearsal (set it on your stand and hit the record button) Next time you’re practicing on your own at home, give it a listen and follow along in your part with a pencil in hand. Put a small check mark next to the stuff you need to work on and work on it!

At the end of your practice session, re-record yourself playing the same sections you check marked. If they’re better, erase the check mark. If not, you still know what to work on next time you practice.

Color guard can do a similar approach via video. Ask someone you know to video you (kind of close up) during your next run through at practice. Use the video to review what you know and what you don’t.

Have someone else listen to and/or watch your performance. Give them your part and let them follow along and make the check marks. You might find some other areas you thought were okay, but in truth still need some work.

Developing your own self-assessment skills will enable you to improve what you do and how you do it. Learning week to week and improving yourself, now that’s the real competition.



This post was originally released on the “Break Ranks” podcast with Dan Potter. The .mp3 audio file is available to hear, download, and share.


Fran Kick currently serves as division head of the Music for All Summer Symposium Leadership Weekend Experience. He is a nationally-recognized speaker and educational consultant who talks with students and the many people who work with them. You can find more information about his work with music-related organizations and events at