Solo & Ensemble Festivals | Print |
What is S&E?
S&E is a non-competitive festival where music students can play band/orchestra instruments as a solo or with a group of 2 or more students in front of a judge who provides valuable feedback for improving and developing skills.  S&E is designed to help students improve their musical skills and develop confidence and independence that will translate to better performance in both large and small ensemble settings.  In addition to gaining valuable feedback and performance experience, students also make connections with one another and learn as they watch each other perform. Solo and Ensemble (“S&E”) is an extremely important activity – both for the students involved and for HSMA. The greater the participation in S&E, the better our performing groups become. Also, HSMA students’ participation helps us to determine how well we are doing at educating our students relative to other public and private school programs.  For the student, the benefits are tremendous:

  • They get comments from an outstanding adjudicator on what they do well and areas they could focus on for improvement
  • They gain confidence in playing independent or solo parts
  • They learn more about different musical styles and how to properly interpret them
  • They improve their overall musicality
  • They earn the opportunity to be considered for various honors programs within HSMA and YAC.
  • They have a great time!

Students do not compete with one another for a “place” (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc) but against a standard of musical excellence for a rating. For most of the S&E festivals, there is a rating system, with I (“Superior”) being the best, and V being the worst. While a III is considered “average”, there are relatively few III ratings awarded, and rarely a IV. Generally, a I or a II is considered well-prepared, and medals are awarded for I and II ratings.

HSMA views ratings a little differently than many others do. While every student should strive to earn a top rating, we do not focus on ratings. We have a saying at HSMA: We do the right thing, the right way, for the right reason, and the Lord will take care of the ratings. With over a decade of HSMA participation in S&E festivals, this has proven to be the case over and over again.

How can I prepare for S&E?
Practice, practice, practice, and start early!  HSMA students who participate in S&E should perform their piece before the festival for a HSMA instructor.  This is a time when students play their selected piece(s) for a knowledgeable instructor who makes suggestions to prepare the student to be critiqued by a judge who is musical expert.  Practicing early and working with an instructor are valuable steps a student can take to get the most out of the S&E experience.

Although the requirements are different for each of the S&E festivals, there is typically a registration process and a cost to participate. For several of the S&E festivals, HSMA requires students to participate in an S&E Preparation Session with one or more of our conductors.