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Chapter 3~ Contests, contests, contests.

My dad and I circa 1980

...and then there were the contests.  I am not necessarily anti-contest, I think kids can benefit from some types of competitions if they are taught a healthy attitude toward being beat, and of winning.  If there is commradery between them and their fellow contestants.  What I remember most about contests isn't the joy of placing 1st regionally, or even of placing in the top 3 Nationally, but the resentment of competitors parents, toward their kids, or toward other kids and other parents.  It seemed like for so many of us kids, the contests were about our parents more than they were about us. That said, I appreciate the discipline contest fiddling taught me.  You learned a piece of music like the back of your hand.  You learned it inside out, upside down and backards until it was perfect.  That was also a lesson I took with me throughout the rest of my life, however, at age 14 I vowed to never enter another contest again after seeing so many falling outs and broken hearts of kids.  Kids sad because their parents were disappointed that they reached a mere second place, kids mad at other kids for winning first place.  Parents fighting and asking for recounts of score sheets, ad nauseum, and I suppose my heart was broken too.  There were kids I knew at those contests that I loved.   I considered them family and we all wanted to know each other forever.  But since our parents could not help but to come somewhat unglued over our placements, even though, at the end of the day, we were all much of a muchness, I could not move away quickly enough in search for something more positive in my experience with music.

June 1981 Weiser Idaho holding John Francis' trophy while he was interviewed by the local paper