Sonatina Festival (Springfield, Va)

About the Festival

Basic Information

Students of MEA Piano Studio participate in the annual Sonatina Festival for music students in Northern Virginia. This festival is a fun opportunity for students to study classical music in the form of Sonatinas. Students of all ages and levels get to perform in a non-competitive setting and receive feedback from other piano instructors.

Festivals are not competitions. Students are judged based solely on their own performance and their own music, even when someone plays the same piece. This festival has two ratings: Pass or Fail. Students that pass receive a special trophy based on their years of participation. In order to pass, students must follow all of the “rules” listed below.

Why Participate?

There are many. The main reason is that it gives young piano students something exciting to forward and helps them learn to plan ahead, reach goals, and prepare for a public performance. Boredom is the main reason that students quit piano. Practicing becomes endless and tedious. Festivals and other piano events help lessons become less boring and less tedious.

Who Can Participate?

Students of any age and level may participate. For beginner students their sonatinas will be very, very easy to learn and very, very easy to memorize. As the student advances they will learn harder and longer pieces.

What Happens at the Festival?

Students play their prepared piece for a friendly audience a local judges from Northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. While the student is playing, the judges will write down feedback for the student. This feed back will consist of things like:

  • Compliments – If a student plays well, or does all of the dynamics in the piece, or remembers to play the staccato at the end, the judge will comment on this.
  • What Needs Attention – For example, if a beginner student plays an entire song fortissimo (which means very loud) when the directions in the piece indicate that the song is play pianissimo (very soft!) the judge will remind the student to try to play their song pianissimo.
  • The written feedback will also discuss things like the student’s:
    • Rhythm – holding the notes for the correct values
    • Tempo – playing the piece at a suitable tempo
    • Pedaling – these are the things that stick out underneath the piano.
    • Accuracy – wrong notes or correct notes.
    • Technique – things like hand placement, fingering, posture.
    • Tone Quality – the way the piano sounds when students play.
    • Dynamics – the directions the tell the pianist when to play soft and when to play loud.
    • Stage Presence – whether the performer projects confidence.
    • Memorization – how well the student can play with the music.
  • Beginners, intermediate, and advanced students are judged according to their level. Advanced students are expected incorporate more skills and technique into their performance while for many beginners, playing a memorized piece with confidence is more important.

Festival Location

The Sonatina Festival is held at First Baptist Church of Springfield which is located in Springfield, Virginia.

Directions from MEA Piano Studio

  • Start: MEA Piano Studio – 6210 Old Franconia Rd, Alexandria, VA 22310
    • Take Old Franconia Rd to Franconia Rd
    • Turn Left on Franconia Rd
    • Continue on Franconia Rd to Old Keen Mill Road (Springfield)
    • Turn Right on Hanover Ave
    • Turn Left on Monticello Blvd
    • Turn Right on Gary St
      • Destination is on the right.
  • End: First Baptist Church of Springfield – 7300 Gary St, Springfield, VA 22150

Festival Time

Participating students are assigned a specific performance time and must stay for the entire hour to listen to other students. Students may choose from any of the time blocks listed below (specific times can’t be chosen, only time blocks). Students are also required to stay for the entire assigned hour.

Festival Time Blocks

  • Friday Evening – 6 pm to 9 pm
    • Students are assigned to play during at 6 pm, 7 pm, or 8 pm.
  • Saturday Morning
    • Students are assigned to play during at 9 am, 10 am, or 11 am.
  • Saturday Afternoon
    • Students are assigned to play during at 1 pm, 2 pm, or 3 pm.

Festival Dates

Normally on the first weekend of May. The exact dates are always listed on the studio calendar:

Festival Fee

The festival fee is $25 per student.

Festival Rules

Important!!!!! If these rules are not followed students will “fail” the festival and will not receive their trophy!!!!!!

  1. Participants may perform one or two movements from the same Sonatina.
    • A movement is a fancy name for a song.
    • If two movements are played students should strive to prepare two contrasting sonatinas. For example, 1 slow movement and one fast movement.
  2. All music must be memorized.
  3. Each movement must be twenty measures or longer.
  4. Students must bring their judging sheets to the festival.
  5. Students must bring their music to the festival.

Festival Awards

As long as students receiving a “pass” rating they will receive a trophy. Students receive trophies based on their years of participation. For example, a first year student will receive a first year trophy while a fifth year student will receive a fifth year trophy.

Festival Format

The festival is in Recital Format. Recital format means that students play in front of an audience and two judges. For the sonatina festival the audience is small and consists of other students performing at the same assigned hour and in the same assigned room along with their parents. The judges are local piano teachers from the D.C. Metro area. Students are grouped together based on each student’s chosen time and level.

Remember: Due to the small space, extended family members and family friends are not invited.

Recital Etiquette

Since the festival is in a recital format, students and parents follow the guidelines below:

  • If a student arrives late, do not enter the room while a student is playing. This can be quite disturbing, especially for anxious or young students, and can cause them to mess up or forget their music.
    • If a student is late, wait until the audience claps and then enter the room.
    • If the door to the assigned room is closed, this is the indicator that the performances for that hour has started.
    • To avoid late arrivals, aim to arrive 15-20 minutes before the scheduled playing time.
  • If a student needs to leave early (please do your best to stay for the entire hour) please do not leave the room during the middle of a performance for the reasons stated above.
  • After performing, students must bow!
  • Wear something nice. No jeans, no shorts.
  • No video recording or photography is allowed during the performances. Parents may arrive early (or stay late if there’s time) to do these things.
  • Turn off cellphones and anything else that will make noise.
  • Always clap after a student plays their piece… unless…
    • If a student is performing two pieces then the audience should wait until after the second piece is played.


  • Students should go to their assigned rooms and check-in with the judges.


  • All students are encouraged to warm-up on the piano. This is very important as all pianos are different.
  • In most cases, the student’s assigned room is available 10-15 minutes before their performance time. Students may warm-up briefly on the piano.

A warm-up consists of a scale, and playing a section or two of the performance piece. If the piece uses the pedal, practice a short portion with the pedal. And since most pieces use dynamics, students should play a scale or a section of their piece with different dynamics.

If a person is already at the piano, students should wait patiently off to the side of the piano.

Festival Tips For Students

  • Be prepared! Practice your piece and memorize it well. This will make the festival a much more enjoyable event.
  • It’s okay to be nervous. All the other students are nervous. And sometimes the judges are nervous too.

Festival Tips for Parents

  • Make sure your child practices and is prepared for the festival.
  • Remember to bring judging sheets and music.
  • Allow extra time to arrive.
  • Show your child that the festival is important by:
    • making sure they practice regularly.
    • learning and remembering the name of the composer of their piece.
    • learning an interesting fact about the composer or piece.

About Sonatas and Sonatinas

Sonatas and Sonatinas are a very important part of piano repertoire. The majority of the pieces come from the classical music period.

Basic Facts

  • Sonatas and Sonatinas mean the same thing.
  • Normally, a sonatina is a shorter and easier than a sonata.
  • A sonatina (or sonata) is a collection of two or more pieces. Each piece is called a movement.
  • The movements of a sonata are generally fast, then slow, and then fast.
  • Most sonatas have three movements.

Sonata and Sonatina Music List

Students may choose from any of the sonatinas listed below. For the Sonatina Festival students are divided into three levels:

  • Level 1 – Elementary Repertoire.
  • Level 2 – Intermediate Repertoire.
  • Level 3 – Advanced Repertoire.

Festival Music Lists

I’ll continue adding more sonatinas and sonatas!

Level 1 Sonatina Music List

These are simple, beginning sonatinas for beginner piano students. For MEA Piano Studio, students in Level 1A through 4A are considered to be Level 1 for the Sonatina Festival.

Level 1A
  • Any Pre-Reading Sonatina
Level 1B
  • A First Sonatina By Adams
    • 1st Movement
    • 2nd Movement
Level 1C
  • A First Sonatina By Adams
    • 3rd Movement
Level 2A
  • First-Time Sonatina by Kern
    • 1st Movement
    • 3rd Movement
Level 2B
  • Sail-Away Sonatina by Strickland
    • 1st Movement – Fish in Schools
Level 3A
  • Sail-Away Sonatina by Strickland
    • 2nd Movement – Glassy Waters
Level 3B
  • Sail-Away Sonatina by Strickland
    • 3rd Movement – The Skipper
Level 4A
  • Sonatina in C by Duncombe
    • 1 movement only.

Level 2 Sonatina Music List

These are more advanced and often longer. Repertoire at this level includes Clementi or Kuhlau sonatinas. For MEA Piano Studio, students in Level 4B through 7B are considered to be Level 2 for the Sonatina Festival.

Levels 4B
  • Sonatina in C by Haslinger
    • 1st movement
  • Sonatina in C by Latour
    • 1st movement
  • Sonatina in C Major by Biehl
    • 1st movement – Allegro risoluto
  • Sonata in C Major, K 73b by Scarlatti
Level 5A
  • Sonatina in C Major, op. 151, no. 2 by Diabelli, Anton
    • 2nd movement
  • Sonata in C Major, K 6 by Mozart
    • Menuetto in C Major, from
  • Sonatina in C Major, op. 157, no. 4 by Spindler
    • 1st movement
Level 5B
  • Sonatina in A Minor, op. 94, no. 4 by Biehl
    • 1st movement
  • Sonatina of the Old West by Olson
    • 1st movement
    • 2nd movement
    • 3rd movement
    • 4th movement
Levels 6A
  • Sonatina in G by Attwood
    • 1st movement
  • Sonatina in C by Vanhal
  • Sonatina in F Major, op. 257, no. 2 by Lack, Theodore
    • 4th movement: Finale
Levels 6B
  • Sonatina in G  Anh. 5 by Beethoven
    • 1st Movement – Moderato
    • 2nd Movement – Romanze
  • Sonatina in C Major Op. 36 No. 1 by Cleminti
    • 1st movement
    • 2nd movement
    • 3rd movement
  • Sonatina in A Minor Op. 76 No. 5 by Gurlitt
    • 3rd movement
  • Sonata in D Minor, K 32 by Scarlatti
    • Aria
Level 7A
  • Sonatina in F major, Op. 168 No. 1 by Diabelli
    • 1st movement
  • Sonatina in G Major, op. 83, no. 1 by Schmitt
    • 1st movement
    • 2nd movement
  • Sonatina in B flat Major, op. 4, no. 8 by Wesley
  • Sonata in G Major, HWV 363b, Op. 1, No. 5 by Handel
    • Bourrée
Level 7B
  • Sonatina in G Major Op. 36 No. 2 by Clementi
    • 1st movement
    • 2nd movement
    • 3rd movement
  • Sonatina in C Major, op. 55, no. 1
    • 1st movement
    • 2nd movement
  •  Sonatina in F Major   Anh.  No. 2
    • 1st movement
    • 2nd movement
  • Sonatina in A Minor Op. 27 No. 18 by Kabalevsky

Level 3 Sonatina Music List

These are often full sonatas by composers like Beethoven (Moonlight Sonata) or Mozart (Sonata in C). For MEA Piano Studio, students in Level 8A through 10C are considered to be Level 3 for the Sonatina Festival. Students may choose from any of the Sonatas or Sonatinas listed below and play any movement.

Level 8A
  • Sonatina in C Major Op. 36 no. 3 by Clementi
    • 1st movement
    • 2nd movement
    • 3rd movement
Level 8B
  • Sonatina in G by Gillock
Level 9A
  • Sonatina in C Major, op. 55, no. 3 by Kuhlau
    • 1st movement
    • 2nd movement
    • 3rd movement
  • Sonata in G Major, op. 49, no. 2 by Beethoven
    • 1st movement
    • 2nd movement
  • Sonata in C Major, K 545 by Mozart
  • Sonatina (1959) by Khatchaturian
    • 1st movement
    • 3rd movement
Level 9B
  • Piano Sonata No.11 in A major, K.331
Level 10
  • Sonata in C sharp Minor, op. 27, no. 2 (“Moonlight”) by Beethoven
  • Sonata in C Minor, op. 13 (“Pathétique”) by Beethoven