Saturday, June 16, 2012


Solo/ensemble is a music competition which I had to do as part of my music classes this year. I competed in our district solo/ensemble competition which involved us and I think 3 other schools as part of a percussion ensemble made of of percussionists from the concert band (concert band is what the marching band does when it isn't marching season). The competition took place at my school in the auditorium on a Saturday. There was also a separate district solo/ensemble specifically for jazz ensembles which took place at East Troy High School which, if I remember correctly, is about a half hour bus ride from Fort.

Basically, the way solo/ensemble works is you perform at your allotted time, either as a solo act or as part of an ensemble. You play a piece picked out from a list of pieces decided on by the competition authorities at one of three class levels A, B or C. the judges get a copy of the score of the piece you are playing and they fill out a score card and give you an overall rating, the best of which being a *1 if you're competing in class A  or a 1 if you're in class B or C. Anyone who gets a *1 at district is eligible to compete at the state competition. They also give you a brief verbal briefing on how they think you played and what you could improve on and you get to keep your score sheet which they write comments on as well.

Both the percussion ensemble and the jazz ensemble played class A pieces, for percussion we only had to play one piece but for the jazz competition we had to play a set of 3 pieces. Both groups achieved a *1 rating, so I went to state with both of those groups.

The state competition was held at the University of Wisconsin's Whitewater campus on the day of prom. The  Whitewater campus is about a 20 minute drive from Fort. Percussion ensemble performed relatively early in the morning (about 8.45) while jazz was in the afternoon. Both groups again performed well and both received a 1 rating which is the best rating you can achieve at state. The judges comments ranged from praise about our playing to a comment about our professional conduct which was reassuring.

State and district solo/ensemble competitions were interesting challenges and it was exciting to achieve so well in them. Mr. Cook the director of the band and the jazz bands works us hard and solo/ensemble was a good chance to prove to ourselves that we are working at a high level. The Fort Atkinson High School music department really is one of the best in Wisconsin and I consider myself very fortunate to have had the opportunity to become so heavily involved with it.

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