Solo and Ensemble Prelude and Postlude

Solo and Ensemble festivals are an opportunity for students to perform and be critiqued by an adjudicator. While it’s ultimately up to students to take ownership of their performance, here’s a fun way to help them prepare. It can also be valuable to use students’ festival experiences to access strengths and weaknesses on the individual and class levels.

Pre Solo and Ensemble

MENC member and April 2008 online mentor Steven Raybould suggests the following:  “I have found that a very easy way to have the students prepare as well as have them fighting for the chance to perform was a master class format. I write the names of my students on popsicle sticks and pull them out of a cup. If I pull their name, they have to perform their solo for the group. All of the other students fill out a judges’ sheet and offer constructive criticism. We then have a class discussion. While it may seem high stress, it really isn’t. The students are more afraid of messing up in front of their peers than they are about messing up in front of a random judge.”

Post Solo and Ensemble

MENC Member Michael Isadore recommends the following way to use the judges’ comments:
“I always read the comment sheets of my students and like it when the adjudicator is specific so I can learn about tips or even habits that the students have developed right under my nose. We participate in solo competitions from the school level and not the private teacher level, so many of the students have teachers and it is helpful to me to see what they need, etc. I do make an effort to work with everyone, but I will only hear many of the students once or twice as I am only one person. If I see many of the same type of comments that are even a ‘private teacher’ issue, I will try to re-enforce in the classroom.”

Are you also preparing for a group festival? Read this article: Face Your First Festival Fluster

Tips collected from MENC forums.

— Nicole Springer, September 23, 2008. © National Association for Music Education (