Competitions are not meant for music
Competitions in music pit one musician against another as if they were athletes in a race. Music is not a race, nor is it something someone can ‘win’ at. These competitions, while providing goals and performance opportunities for young musicians, are creating a breed of guitarists who are more concerned with technical perfection and interpretations that are aimed at the middle of the road.
High level musical interpretation is difficult, if not impossible, to quantify and rank so judges often have to resort so simply counting mistakes. This style of judging means that competitors strive to be mistake-free and offer interpretations that will please the majority rather than being individual and unique. This process is creating a generation of guitarists who display technical prowess but offer little that is unique or different from other players.
The pieces used in competitions are also homogeneous as it is difficult to compare a new composition that is unknown to the judges to a repertoire evergreen. This means that competitions will program similar repertoire over and over again. Even in competitions with free choice, competitors will take the safe road of well worn pieces over an unknown composer.
Competitions are great at providing goals, they offer performance opportunities for the winners and they have undoubtedly been part of the incredible overall advancement of guitar technique in the last decades. They do have these positive attributes, but at what cost?