How to Participate In a Solo and Ensemble Festival


Preparing for the Event

  1. Decide what you want to do.Fees, regulations, rating systems, and requirements vary from district to district, but for now, you're just deciding if you want to do a solo, ensemble, or both. Different districts might have different limits as to how many things you can do, but doing more than two in any situation probably isn't a good idea.
  2. Round up the people you'll need.
    • If you're doing an ensemble, you'll need to find other people to be in it. Some places are stricter about ensembles than others, but many areas require that you have "normal" ensembles, such as a flute duet, woodwind quintet, brass quartet, etc., with the exact instrumentation used in a standard one of these. Unfortunately, that can cause roadblocks - for instance, if your band doesn't have a bassoon player, you can't do a woodwind quintet. Ask about what kinds of ensembles you can have, but even if you're free to do whatever you want, keep in mind that you don't want to be too weird. A baritone sax, an oboe, a piccolo, and a trumpet may be just a little too bizarre, and good luck finding music for a group like that.
    • If you plan on doing a solo, you'll probably need a piano accompanist (unless the piece you choose ends up not having a piano part). In most cases, you can sign up someone you know, like a parent, grandparent, church music director, etc., or if you don't know somebody who can play, you can "borrow" someone else from your school or the district.
  3. Choose music.You'll want to make sure you choose something that isn't too hard to learn (but one that will challenge you slightly is good), and that you actually like. A good way to pick is to narrow it down by difficulty, for starters. Ask what grade music your band usually plays, and if you think you can handle it, ask to see some music a grade higher, or stay around the same grade. Then, it's just a matter of flipping through books, sightreading, and making a choice. If you're doing an ensemble, make sureallthe members agree on it, even if you are the appointed "leader".
  4. Find out what you have to do.Many festivals require measures to be numbered.Alwaysread handouts if you are given them all the way through, and don't skim. You could be disqualified. If you are doing an ensemble, make sure everyone knows the expectations of the festival.
  5. Fill out the paperwork and turn it in.On most registration forms, you simply have to provide the name of your piece, the composer and/or arranger, and your name/the names of people in your ensemble, as well as the name of your accompanist if you're doing a solo. Generally, the rule is one form per entry, which means if you're doing a solo and an ensemble, you need two separate forms, and if you're doing an ensemble, your ensemble only submits one piece of paper. Keep in mind that there also may be a fee, which can vary a lot in different areas. Be sure to read the rules on that very carefully and have your money in on time.
  6. Practice.This is the most important part, as it's the whole point of Solo and Ensemble - to practice a piece and strive for the highest rating possible. If you aren't offered an opportunity to practice at school, find a way to get together with your ensemble or your accompanist after school, as much as possible.

Before the Event

  1. Put on your band uniform.This usually isn't required, but it should go without saying. The band uniform is an easy way for other people to see which school you're from, and it also makes you look more professional and prepared. Judges will sometimes give you the benefit of the doubt on little mistakes if you look good. If you're performing in an ensemble, make sure everyone knows to wear their uniform and which one to wear. An alternative to wearing your band uniform would be to color-coordinate your ensemble - be creative. You can all wear, say, a red shirt, dark blue jeans, and white shoes, or you can really be creative and try something more unusual, like having everyone dress as a different color of the rainbow and stand in the correct order.
  2. Get your stuff together.You'll want to have your instrument, a music stand (if you've been told to bring your own), extra reeds (to be put in your pocket in a reed case) or whatever else your instrument might need, theoriginalcopy of your piece (as in, the book or the piece of paper that came right out of it), if you have it, and your copy of the music. You may also want to have a backup or two of all the parts of your ensemble, including yours, or the piano part for your solo, in case someone else in your ensemble loses their music or your piano accompanist somehow doesn't get a copy of their part.
  3. When you get to the location (probably a school) where the event will take place (at least half an hour before your designated playing time), sign in to get your room information, and head to the cafeteria or other designated warm-up room to run through your music a few more times and wait for the rest of your ensemble or your accompanist to show up.Now would also be a good time to scout out your band director, if you don't already have the original copy of your music - if he didn't give it to you, he should have it.
  4. Once everyone else you need has arrived and you've warmed up for a few minutes, find your room at least 15 minutes early and wait for your turn to play.If you're nervous, just calm down... you're going to be fine.

During the Event

  1. Get used to the room.The judge will probably give you a minute to tune with your ensemble or with the piano, and it would be in your best interests to do so.
  2. When the judge tells you to play, take a deep breath, and start playing your piece.Focus on the music, not the judge, who should remain still and quiet so as not to disturb you.
  3. Stay put.After you finish playing, the judge may need time to finish writing on the scorecard, and then they often will tell you how you did, and may ask you to play certain parts of your piece over, with instructions on how to make it better. Don't take offense to this, and keep in mind that you may still get the highest rating, The judge is just trying to leave you with something to keep in mind for the future that will make you a better musician.
  4. Take the original of your piece back from the judge and exit the room, when you're completely done.Then, you can either wait around for your scores, which, depending on how many people are participating, could take from a few minutes to hours and hours to appear, or go home and get them from your director later.
  5. Pat yourself on the back... you've done a great job!

Community Q&A

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  • A COA (Cleaning, Oiling, Adjusting) sometime before the event would be a good idea, just to make sure your instrument is in good shape and will play properly. Surprises during your performance are never good.
  • Have something worked out between either you and the other people in your ensemble or you and your pianist to signal each other when to play, so you start off together. Forgetting this and messing up can cause a seriously awkward moment, and may affect your score.
  • You absolutelymusthave theoriginalcopy of your piece to give you the judge, not a photocopy.
  • Some districts have a list of "approved" solos and ensembles that you have to pick from to play. Don't get too attached to a piece of music that you like until you've checked to make sure it's approved.
  • After you play, you might want a souvenir. Many Solo and Ensemble festivals also sell T-shirts or other instrument related things, and a t-shirt or pin is a great way to remember this experience.
  • Just have fun. This isn't an audition - how you do is just a score, and it's not determining anything important. Don't stress over it.


  • Don't try to do an ensemble with unreliable people. Even if they're your best friend, if you'd be willing to bet money on them not showing up to play, you probably don't want them in your ensemble. If you don't like relying on other people at all, just do a solo. There's nothing wrong with that, and it might spare some people some hurt.
  • There's challenging yourself, and then there's biting offwaymore than you can chew. If you're in seventh grade and have been playing for not even two years yet, don't attempt a grade 4 piece. You may not even want to attempt a grade 2 piece. There's nothing wrong with playing easier music - the goal is not to show off or stress you out, but to play something well, even if it's just a grade 1.
  • Doing too many (more than two, or maybe three) events is not something you want to try to pull off. You may end up with serious schedule conflicts (such as two events being scheduled at exactly the same time), or at the very least, you'll be running back and forth an awful lot, and all that stress will affect your performance. If a lot of people are asking you to be in their ensemble, learn to turn them down, for the good of everyone involved.

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Date: 18.12.2018, 04:02 / Views: 63193