Whenever young musicians perform I like to call attention to it. Kids have a lot of adult roll models on TV and elsewhere, but when they get a chance to see accomplished performers their own age it seems to give them a little more inspiration to strive towards improving their own skills.

Back when I was a kid in Junior and Senior High School here in Golden, the school jazz bands would always be a part of the metro area jazz festivals and it would give all of us a chance to see what the other kids our age were doing at their schools. Even though they weren’t formal competitions, there was a strong competitive drive to play better than the guys at the other schools, and there always seemed to be a couple of really good players in every band that made you go “wow.” You would get a chance to meet other musicians your age from around the area and as we grew up some of those kids became the players we pulled together to form the professional bands that launched our careers. As a matter of fact the lead trombone player in my band today is a guy I met almost 40 years ago at one of those school jazz festivals.

I mention all of this because sometimes it’s not just the kids that need a little motivation, it’s also parents and teachers. I highly encourage those of you that have kids in any type of performing arts to take them to see other young artists on stage. A great opportunity to do that is coming up soon and it’s the 55th annual Jefferson Symphony Young Artists Competition-Instrumental.

This is one of the finest and most established classical music competitions in the Denver Metro area. It rotates every year between a piano competition and instrumental competition, so this year it will feature all instruments. The live finals will be taking place on Saturday, January 4, 2014 at the Arvada Center for the Performing Arts, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the three top winners performing in an evening recital there at 7 p.m. Those winners will be announced that day at the conclusion of the competition.

Although this competition is held locally, it attracts competitors from around the world between the ages of 12 and 23. These talented music students come from some of the country’s top music schools such as Julliard and Mannes as well as local competitors from the University of Colorado and Denver University’s Lamont School of Music. The winners receive cash prizes as well as the opportunity to perform live with the Jefferson Symphony later in the year.

The judges for the competition are college music professors and professional classical musicians from various orchestras including the Colorado Symphony.

The public is invited to attend the competition free of charge and tickets for the evening recital are $10 for adults and $5 for children under 13. There are a limited number of two for one tickets available, so call the box office at (720) 898- 7200 or go to www.arvadacenter.org to order.

The Arvada Center is located at 6901 Wadsworth Blvd. in Arvada. For more information about the Young Artists Competition visit the Jefferson Symphony website, www.jeffersonsymphonyorchestra.org.

This is a chance for you and your kids to see the up and coming future stars in the classical music field. Some day soon you may be buying one of their CDs and remember the night you saw them live on stage for the first time.

And with a little luck, hard work and determination you might be seeing your own kids or students up on that stage in the next Young Artists competition. It all starts with a dream and this is where dreams like that are often times born.

John Akal is a well-known jazz artist/drummer and leader of the 20-piece Ultraphonic Jazz Orchestra. He also is president of John Akal Imaging, professional commercial photography and multi-media production.jaimaging@aol.com