Instrumental pageant talents have unique costuming demands, so when choosing or designing your pageant talent competition costume,
keep in mind the unique demands of your specific musical instrument.
For instance, a pianist is usually positioned so judges can watch the keyboard, which hinders a girl’s ability to visually connect with the panel. “Often the judges will be seated so they can’t see anything but the back, so you’ll want to have back interest,” says Thomas Tolbert, a pageant wardobing expert. “If she is going to be at an angle (such as playing a piano), get some interest to draw the eye up to her face. Hands are important too, but you want to see the face.”
Successful looks for pianists and other instrumentalists include gowns with tailored or flowing trains and eye-catching detailing on the torso, shoulders, and sleeves.
- Marjorie Vincent (1991) chose a simple black skirt with an elegant red-and-black embroidered tulip train (to right) for her classical piano performance of Fantaisie Impromptu.
- Gretchen Carlson, Miss America 1989, wore an elegant black and deep green velvet gown for her classical violin performance of Zigeunerweisen
Since wind and string musicians use facial expressions, hand motions, and movement around the stage to project personality, they must use costuming to focus attention on those areas.
Detailing on the bodice, neckline, shoulders, and sleeves helps draw attention to the performer’s face and instrument. “Put the artwork at the bodice going up,” advises Tolbert. “If you have the artwork at the top it draws your attention up to her face.”
Chiffon, taffeta, or velvet skirts, and understated tone-on-tone beaded skirts are all suitable bottoms.
Musicians with energetic numbers should select costuming that compliments body movements. Miss Missouri 1983, a fiddler, won a national talent award wearing a fully fringed pantsuit that swayed in unison with her lively performance.
Use costuming to get – and keep – the judges’ attention. A pageant musician’s costuming should instantly establish the genre of her performance for the judges and develop a specific mood onstage.
“You have to create an image,” advises Stacy King, Miss Louisiana 1989, a spirited banjo player. “Everything has to fit. Everything has to be perfect. The total picture is the key.”
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