Over the years there has been steady growth in the St. John's Festival. A couple of glitches in the progress should be noted. In 1975 there were 2,180 entries comprising 13,500 competitors. This figure for the number of competitors was the highest on record. That year there were over 250 school choirs, church choirs, choral speech choirs, bands and instrumental ensembles entered in the festival. Incredibly, during the fifty years of the Festival, the records show more than 310,000 young participants have been involved in solo competitions as well as being members of the numerous school and community ensembles. Changes in music curriculum, in extra-curricular activity and in school organization and philosophy resulted in the number of group entries dropping dramatically over the next couple of years. While the numbers of groups participating declined there was no indication of any drop in the quality of the performances. The opposite seems more likely to be the case. The festival was required to adjust its operation to cope with these changes, and did so without any serious disruptions; administratively or financially. As this was happening the number and variety of solo and small ensemble entries continued to rise, both in quality and in numbers.
The number of entries has kept rising at a healthy pace, the numbers now exceeding 3,000 each year. This is the result of a keener awareness of the importance of music in the education of our young people and the availability of qualified instructors in all the major musical disciplines.
One big boost in the number of entries, and also in the size of participating audiences, has been the introduction of classes in musical theatre. In the past decade, these numbers have grown to 21 classes offered and they attract over 600 competitors annually. Encouraging singers to develop dramatic/theatrical as well as musical skills certainly enhances the educational process, and presentations find great acceptance with large audiences. When performers select presentations which are within their musical and emotional capabilities we see many memorable performances.
The piano section has always been strong, and in the past decade there has been a steady increase in entries, particularly in Junior Piano. This is a healthy indication, for there is probably no more basic necessity in a good musical education than a grounding in piano skills.