Solo / Ensemble Competition

This information is for musicians and their families who would like to understand the solo/ensemble contests better.

Dates. Each contest takes place on a Saturday, lasting the entire day. The Eastshore high-school contests are usually held in late January or early February. The Eastshore music region also organizes an annual middle-school festival, for both vocalists and instrumentalists, which is usually in late March.

Purpose. The solo/ensemble contests are intended to provide student musicians an opportunity to perform a solo or an ensemble in front of an adjudicator and a limited audience, and to receive constructive comments, both spoken and written, from the adjudicator. The primary benefits to the students are the experience of performing alone or in a small group, and a critique from someone other than their regular music teacher(s). These contests also serve as regional qualifying events for the State Solo/Ensemble Contest every spring.

Clarifications. A solo is considered to be a piece performed either entirely alone or with a piano accompaniment. An ensemble is a group of from 2 to 16 musicians performing together, with or without a piano accompaniment. The adjudicator (often called a judge) is a professional musician not teaching school in the students' district. The solo/ensemble contests should not be confused with the orchestra, band, or choir festivals, in which the entire large group performs for a panel of adjudicators.

Conduct. Although the atmosphere at the contests is informal, certain standards of conduct need to be upheld. Formal dress (such as ties or heels) is not required, but it is desirable to dress "nicely", as one might for church. Students and accompanists should not play or sing except in the warm-up room. Conversation should be kept to an absolute minimum in the halls, especially near the adjudication rooms. Food and drink should be consumed only in the area where they are served.

Procedure. Performers are expected to appear with their music and accompanist at the proper place and time. The contest office (usually near the entrance and well marked) can help musicians locate the warm-up and adjudication rooms. The office can also help deal with logistical problems such as conflicting performance times or lost accompanists.

Results. The rating sheets are collected periodically from each adjudication room and taken to the contest office for verification. They are retained and given to the appropriate music teacher at the end of the contest. In high-school contests, the ratings are also posted in a central area as soon as they are verified. Ratings are not posted in middle-school festivals, but the sheets are still given to the teachers. Each adjudicator at a high-school contest is asked to choose one solo or ensemble entry (together with first and second alternates) to perform at the State Solo/Ensemble Contest in Ellensburg, usually held in late April.

Categories. The WMEA defines the following categories for solo/ensemble contests:

Woodwind Solo:Piccolo/Flute/Alto Flute; Oboe/English Horn; Clarinet; Alto/Bass Clarinet; Bassoon; Soprano/Alto Saxophone; Tenor/Baritone Saxophone

Brass Solo: Trumpet/Cornet; Horn; Trombone; Euphonium/Baritone Horn; Tuba

Percussion Solo: Timpani; Mallets; Snare Drum; Multiple Percussion

Auxiliary/Keyboard Solo: Piano; Classical Guitar; Harp

String Solo:Violin; Viola; Violoncello; Contrabass

Vocal Solo: Soprano; Mezzo Soprano; Alto; Tenor; Baritone; Bass

Small Ensemble: 2-4 performers not counting accompanist (piano, harp, or guitar)

Large Ensemble: 5-16 performers not counting accompanist (piano, harp, or guitar)

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