AMP Hosts Weeklong Adjudications to Propel Academy Students’ Artistic Growth


From May 6th to 10th, AMP hosted its annual adjudications of the 2023-2024 AMP Academy students. Adjudications are performance-based exams that commonly occur during music festivals, auditions, and competitions. Adjudicators listened and evaluated performances while offering feedback based on certain criteria. The adjudicators consisted of educators and individuals holding doctoral degrees in their respective disciplines: Dr. Concong Bi and Katerina Rakestraw (strings), Dr. Thomas Kim (winds, brass, and percussion), Letricia Henson (voice), and Dr. Pamela Burns-Bell (voice).

AMP Academy Adjudications include scales, arpeggios, and sight-singing exercises to assess the skills students have developed during their private lessons. “These exams evaluate our students’ artistic and musical progress, helping us tailor our services to better serve them and their families,” says Associate Director of AMP Academy, Amber Smith.
“I’m here to hear students play scales and two solo pieces. I’m looking for fluency in rhythm, tone, and their technique”, says Dr. Thomas Kim. “This is only my first year as an adjudicator, but I see a lot of talent and passion in these students, and the hard work of their teachers behind this. I really respect that.”
Students who successfully pass adjudications and fulfill the recital performance requirements maintain their place in AMP Academy, while those who don’t obtain a passing score must re-apply in the fall. The ultimate goal of adjudications is to better prepare students to confidently present themselves in front of professional musicians and showcase their artistic abilities.

Maya at her AMP Academy adjudications.

Preston at his AMP Academy adjudications.

“Even if she doesn’t sing her whole life, it’s helping her to learn to work for a goal. She’s learning diligence in disappointment and success.”

   -Jennifer, AMP Parent and Maya’s mother

AMP Academy students Preston Harris and Maya Winfrey reflect on preparing for adjudications, their experience going through the exam, and the impact AMP Academy has had on their personal and artistic growth overall:

“Going into my adjudication, I had a bit of nervousness, especially when it comes to sight-reading, because it’s an acquired skill”, exclaims Maya Winfrey, a vocalist in AMP Academy. “During the adjudication, I felt at ease because the sight-reading wasn’t that difficult at all. Coming out of it, I felt relieved.” Maya credits her practice regimen and repetition for her successful exam. “My AMP Voice Teacher, Mrs. English-Robinson, gave me resources to help [with sight reading], so I looked up a lot of examples in a few different keys. For her AMP peers, and fellow musicians, looking to prepare for exams like adjudications, Maya advises to “get outside of your head, and establish good practice habits on your own schedule”.

Like Maya, Preston credits practice for his “smooth” exam, alongside warming up his instrument. “When I was going to the adjudication room, I was tense and nervous because I didn’t want to mess up. But once I warmed up my instrument, got some warm air through it, I was good”. He was excited about the feedback he received from his adjudicator Dr. Kim, stating that he received “a lot of good compliments” on his solo pieces in particular.

For AMP Academy students and families, taking on adjudication prep, alongside weekly ensemble and private lessons makes for an intense Spring schedule. But Maya and Preston’s mothers find that the sacrifice and time commitment is invaluable to their families’ well-being as a whole. “We’re trying to build good humans that are well-rounded”, says Maya’s mother, Jennifer. “Even if she doesn’t sing her whole life, it’s helping her to learn to work for a goal. She’s learning diligence in disappointment and success”. Tiffany Harris’ biggest encouragement to other families is to “decide on your goals, consider your children’s future is worth making the sacrifice”. She has witnessed a transformation of sorts in Preston, who has been a part of AMP Academy for nearly three years. “His self-esteem [is impacted] in a positive manner, and it’s helped him be more disciplined in his school work”.

For both students, that sacrifice of extra visits to the AMP Center and countless practice times yields many rewards:”I think about where I’ve started, how far I’ve come, and what I could become. My higher range has improved, my tone in my lower [register] as an alto has improved, and so has my confidence”, says Maya.

“Before I started AMP, I thought I’d never be able to understand how to play music,” says Preston. “I just never thought I’d be able to do it ever. My advice [to other students] would be if something gets too hard, don’t feed into it – don’t quit. Keep practicing.”