What Music is recommended for classical instrumentalists and dancers in the pageant talent competition?
First, it is important o realize that few pageant talents can rival the effectiveness of classical talent performances – whether they are instrumental or dance. In fact, classical talent performances are among the most successful pageant talents of all, statistically.
Classical pageant talents have a superb record in major pageants:
- Miss America 1991, Marjorie Vincent (Miss Illinois), won the preliminary talent trophies and the crown performing a classical piano selection, Chopin’s Fantasie-Impromptu, Opus 66.
- Miss America 1989, Gretchen Carlson, was a classical violinist who had performed as a soloist with the Minnesota Orchestra. She performed Zigeunerweisen.
- America’s Junior Miss for 1994, Amy Osmond (Donnie and Marie’s niece) was also a superb classical violinist.
- Neva Langley, Miss America 1953 (Miss Georgia), played Toccato in E-Flat Minor on the piano (which she played in the dark perfectly at the Miss Georgia pageant when the lights went out) and which won her the talent award at Miss America.
- Bess Myerson, Miss America 1945 (Miss New York), performed a selection from Grieg and Gershwin to win the talent competition and become the first Jewish Miss America.
Because classical pageant talents are considered so much more “serious” than other non-classical talents, they must be entertaining!
“I think it can be harder to sell (classical non-vocal talents),” says Dennison Keller, a national judge and former producer of Miss Ohio and Miss Texas telecasts. However, he points out that when presented in an entertaining manner with well chosen music, classical talents can be extremely successful. “If you are a classically trained musician, there’s worlds of wonderful, exciting symphonic pieces.”
Unfortunately, however, not all judges appreciate classical talents. In fact, some pageant coaches actually advise heavyweight classical performers to “tone it down” or switch to something the public can “relate” to. Don’t buy it.
Quality classical pageant talents are the surest way to leap from the local pageant stage to a national pageant telecast. “I love classical numbers,” enthuses Kenn Berry, a veteran of four decades of judging. “I don’t feel they’re boring at all. God, no! I’m speaking strictly for myself, but to me, opera, classical ballet, and classical piano take a helluva lot to heat.” Berry is not alone in his appreciation for heavyweight talents.
Nevertheless, because there is the risk of those few judges who yawn at classical talents, classical performers absolutely must ensure that their performances include any techniques that add the appearance of showmanship. These can include eye-catching technical elements (showy keyboard runs, fabulous ballerina leaps and footwork, etc.), choreography playing up different parts of the music (hip-swaying, shimmies, etc.), and showbizzie costuming.
The secret to making heavyweight classical performance into masterpieces… and transforming any classically-adverse judges into fans… is showmanship!
So, if you have a heavyweight classical talent, vocal, instrumental, or dance … don’t play it safe. Make it entertaining and work it.
Examples of Pageant Music for Classical Dancers and Musicians
To impress judges with classical talents – whether its dance or a musical instrument – perform familiar classics that are fun, emotionally stirring, or elegant:
- Czardas Toccata
- Fantaisie Impromptu
- Orange Blossom Special
- The Blue Danube
- Grieg’s Concerto
- Flight of the Bumble Bee
- Dr. Gradus ad Parnassum
- The Cat and the Mouse
- Warsaw Concerto
- Rhapsody in Blue
- Toccato in E-Flat Minor
- Gershwin’s Preludes Caprice Viennois
- The Cadenza
- Hora Stacato
- Gypsy Airs
- Can-Can/Bumble Boogie
- Moonlight Sonata
- Debussy’s Fireworks Prelude
- Almost any selection from:
What Classical Musicians Should Avoid with their Pageant Music
While classical music is highly successful in pageants, the music must ideally should be recognizable to the judges and audience.
“There’s the ‘far out’ music,” Cox explains. “You can’t tell if they’re playing the right notes. Then there’s the irregular rhythms in a lot of the contemporary music. Judges have a question in their minds: Was it completely right or not? Is there a real talent shown here? There’s also the ‘loud banging music’ with banging from beginning to end . . . which just shows one thing,” she quips. “You have powerful fingers!
We are not saying that you can’t win with an original composition (Tawny Godin, Miss America 1976 did win performing her own piano composition), only that you run the risk of some judges assuming you chose and unrecognizable song so judges wouldn’t know when you missed notes.
(Of course, the reverse holds true as well….If you are not a great pianist, you could potentially choose an unrecognizable modern musical selection, knowing that judges won’t know when you’ve missed notes! Not recommending, of course. Just noting… Read our section on what to do when you have no talent.)
- Your Pageant Talent Costuming Sets the Mood for Your Performance
- Best Pageant Music for Dance, Ballet, Gymnastics, Baton, Acrobatics in the Talent Competition
- Pageant Costuming for Dancers, Baton, Gymnastics in Talent Competition
- Outfits for Pageant Instrumental Talents | Costuming for Pageant Musicians
- What Should Pageant Singers Wear? | Best Pageant Costuming for Vocalists
- What Judges Look for in the Pageant Talent Competition
- Pageant Talent Tips for Singers
- Tips for Classical Singers in Pageants
- Best Pageant Music for Singers
- Best Pageant Talent Music for Musicians
- Pageant Music for Classical Musicians and Dancers
- Pageant Dancers Have it Made! The Many Types of Dance Used as Pageant Talents
- How to Prepare for the Pageant Talent Competition