Solo Ensemble Contest

This past February 25th, selected concert and jazz band students traveled out to Eden Valley Watkins High School for this year’s solo ensemble contest. A large collection of students participated, either for a group performance or a solo performance. We had very good results this year, with all scores being either excellent or superior. Ceil Maus-Conn even earned a perfect score with her flute solo, and both Levi Posch and Caitlin Skahen earned “best in site.”
I participated in the event myself, performing both with the jazz band and on my own. Being a freshman, it was first time at the event which made it pretty scary. I performed first with the jazz band, which was a bit easier because I was performing with other people. The solo I had to do in our trickiest song was a little nerve-racking, but I made it through. Following that performance, I had three hours to kill before my solo performance at 7:30. I chatted with some of my friends, listened to music, and before I knew it, it was time for my performance. I played my piece for my judge and got some feedback, and then I was free to go home. I found out later that night that I had recieved a superior rating and was very proud of myself.
I had the time to interview Mr. Paulson, the band director, about the whole event from his point of view, and he had plenty of things to share with me. I asked if he was nervous for the performances from this year’s group, and he said he wasn’t. Preparation for the contest has everything to do with the scores earned, and there’s no doubt the performers got the scores they deserved. I then asked if he was happy with the results of this year’s contest, and he said yes. The students worked hard to perfect their pieces and got some helpful feedback from the judges on how to improve their performances even more. Lastly, I asked if there were any tips Mr. Paulson could give next year’s group, so they can do even better, and he said it all comes down to preparation. The amount of time spent working on a piece determines its quality, so music prepared months in advance will end up with a better score than music learned two weeks prior, and it will cut down stress and anxiety levels.