The Michigan Solo and Ensemble Festival for Middle School and High School Students
Written by Sam Yang | Published. 2018.03.15 16:38 | Count : 1045
What is the Solo and Ensemble Festival? 
Beginning in late-January and continuing to mid-February, once again, the Michigan Solo and Ensemble Music Festival took place in several school districts. This festival, held by the Michigan School Band Orchestra Association, is one of the biggest regional music festivals for secondary students in the United States. The Solo and Ensemble Festival is an opportunity for individuals or groups of students to show their musical skills and to receive medals. There are many requirements to qualify for participation. Performers must bring an original, published copy of the piece they are performing. (Copyrights may not be infringed upon.) The musical performance must be longer than 2 minutes but shorter than 6 minutes. A performance lasting less than 2 minutes results in immediate disqualification. Although a performance lasting more than 6 minutes are not for any point-deductions, the judge may only listen it for maximum 6 minutes long. Soloists must provide their own piano accompanist and are not allowed to perform their musical selection without accompaniment. The same rules apply for ensemble performances, with a maximum number of 4 players per group; however, players in an ensemble do not need to provide a piano accompanist. MSBOA also suggests that Ensemble groups should be comprised of similar instruments--for example, all woodwinds or all brass.  
Symbol of MSBOA  [http://msboa1.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/cropped-logo2.png]
What are the participation requirements?

Registration for Solo and Ensemble starts in October and ends for early December. School band and orchestra directors inform students about the Solo and Ensemble Festival and they take registration forms from the students. For a solo, the registration fee is 12 dollars and for an ensemble, each member of a group must pay 6 dollars. After they finish registration, participants can select a general time that is convenient for them. Unfortunately, they cannot designate a specific time, but rather choose either early morning, around noon, or afternoon. Performers receive their exact time one month before the festival. MSBOA suggests that performers should check in at least 30 minutes before their performance time. After performers check in, they can warm up in the designated room. While they wait for their turn, spectators are allowed to be in the performance room but they are expected to be absolutely silent while the performance is going on. Before each performance, the judge asks players to play and hold a few long notes to make sure they are in tune.
[Solo and Ensemble: Flute Player]
What are the rewards that players can achieve?
The Judge grades a performance with an A, B, C, D, or E in each of 5 different categories: Tone, Intonation, Rhythm, Technique, and Interpretation. Tone is graded on beauty and control of a sound throughout the music, and in an ensemble, how balanced an each player’s sound is within the group. Intonation is based on how well a player stays in tune with the accompanists and with each other if playing in an ensemble. Rhythm is based on accents, meter, precision and interpretation of rhythmic figures. Techniques are based on fluency, articulation, fingering, and accuracy. Lastly, interpretation is judged based on a player’s skillful use of tempo, dynamics, style, and phrasing.  After finishing their performances, players are given their score sheets with comments. Based on the final  grade, they can either get a blue medal for  rating of 1, a red medal for a rating of 2 or no medal for ratings of 3, 4 and 5.To achieve a “1”, which is the highest rating possible and wins a blue medal, the player must overall earn an A or an A- score. If the performer earns a blue medal, he/she is qualified for state level competition. For information, visit the MSBOA website (http://www.msboa.org/AboutMSBOA/Districts/District10.aspx). 

Sam Yang
Grade 10
Forest Hills Northern High School

Sam Yang  student_reporter@dherald.com

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