The Member Challenges at CGC Academy are month-long community events that focus on one theme to help you focus on and achieve short-term goals. We hold a challenge every season and the topic for each challenge will be different for each season. The beginning of each year always kicks off the Member Challenges with a focus on technique, but topics range from scales to duets to metronome practice and much more!

The format for the challenges will differ depending on the focus for each particular month, but in general members who participate will be asked to upload weekly update videos on their progress with the challenge topic and Niki and Dave will provide feedback and guidance via comments in the Forum on each member’s videos. The challenges typically launch on the 1st of the month (schedule listed below) but stay tuned to this page as we may need to make adjustments along the way.

This page houses info as well as signups for all of the challenges. Here is the basic schedule for our round of challenges each year:

  • January 1: Winter Challenge (Technique)
  • May 1: Spring Challenge
  • August 1: Summer Challenge
  • November 1: Fall Challenge

To create a post for your update videos in the Member Challenges forum, first go to the appropriate forum in the Member Challenges forum, then scroll to the bottom of the page to “Create a New Topic.” In the “Topic Title” box please put your first and last name and the title of the challenge and/or the exercise you’re working on. In the large box below that you can type your text and directly paste the URL from your YouTube video. For each weekly update please post in this same topic — please do not create a new topic for each weekly update.

Current/Upcoming Member Challenge

Fall Challenge, 2020: Duets

If you would like to participate in this challenge please read all of the following instructions and overview.

This challenge is all about playing music with a partner — welcome to the Duets Challenge! Throughout the month of November you will be working on a piece of music from your grade out of the Academy’s new Duet Graded Repertoire book.

We have chosen one repertoire piece for each grade (with one exception!). Each participant will be assigned a part depending on their grade and their last name (surname). Whereas in other challenges we have asked you to work on material within the grade you are currently working on, for this challenge please do consider working below your level unless you feel confident about working on your current grade in an ensemble setting. If, for instance, you just passed your Grade 2 exam, consider working at Grade 2 (or even Grade 1) rather than Grade 3. The goal here is to make the added challenge of working with a duet partner more manageable.

After you have signed up, if you need a partner then please let us know by posting a comment on this thread. Then, to get started, please wait until you either have selected a partner or you have been assigned a partner and start one topic for your duo in the Duets Member Challenge Forum. (If you’re unsure how to start a new topic, please follow the instructions just below the video at the top of this page). The title of the topic should be your names (or your duo name!) and what grade you will be working on for this challenge. Please only post one topic for each duo.

Because of the nature of this challenge, we cannot allow late signups so signups will close on Tuesday, November 3 with no exceptions (sorry if this is an inconvenience). Between October 28 and November 4 we will decide on who your final partner will be (if you do not yet have one).

Here is the list of repertoire for each grade — please click on the link of each piece to go to the lesson and to download the score.

Here is a rundown of what we expect for your weekly videos:

  • Status Video or audio — video not required (due November 7): Work with your partner to jump the hurdle of the technological challenges of recording a duet together over the Internet and across distances. This recording will be raw and rough — that’s okay! The goal here is successfully mounting the technical difficulties, not a clean performance.
  • Week 1 (due November 14): One of the challenges of online ensemble work with a partner will be creating ways to connect with one another where you can work together in real time. Because of latencies between connections on live streaming and video call softwares like Zoom, Skype, or Google Meet, you may find it difficult to be able to play together simultaneously while staying in time together. So it will be better to send one another audio files of your own individual part and then meet to discuss details of how to bring the parts together. Perhaps you notice that there are places where your part or your partner’s part speeds up too much, or where rhythmic values aren’t correct, or perhaps some notes are being accented in one part that distracts from what the other part is playing. There are many aspects to this that will require you to work individually on your part while remaining informed by your partner’s part as well. Focus on practice techniques to attack the material together: come up with problem areas to focus on and use spot or slow practice or other practice techniques to address them; utilize various rhythm practices like dotted rhythms or counting methods or subdivision to help you work out the rhythms together; listen to audio/video of your partner’s part while singing your part out loud or counting your part along with your partner’s part; and so on.
  • Week 2 (due November 21): You should be in a position to begin putting in some performance practice this week, but the goal for this week should mostly be focusing on working out any wrinkles that pop up with the technology along with strategies to bring your piece up to target tempo.
  • Week 3 (due November 28): By the end of the month we hope everyone will be able to celebrate a successful duet performance. So the final video, your week 3 update video, will be a performance video! Don’t worry if you didn’t hit your target tempo or even if you weren’t able to work on all of the piece — just post a video of a performance of what you were able to accomplish in the month.

Our live, Zoom wrap-up session will be held on Sunday, November 29 at 4pm NYC time. We’ll celebrate all of your accomplishments throughout the month, so this will be a bit of a party just for you!

Sign-ups are now closed.