Time to shine


The Mirror reporter

 “It was finally my turn to perform. I grabbed my music and instrument and walked onto the stage. It was quiet and cold in the room and all the stage lights were shining on me. I felt like I was the only person in the room but I wasn’t. Across the room the judges sat, waiting, staring. I was shaking like a leaf but knew I could do this. After all these weeks I knew it was my time to shine. So, I lifted my instrument, took one last deep breath and played.”

Have you ever wanted to experience that feeling of accomplishment? To work towards something and finally accomplish it? Do you love to play/sing music but don’t know where to show off your skills? Well, there is actual an event that allows students to do just that.

Solo & Ensemble is an annual contest where students can prepare either a solo with or without an instrument and/or an ensemble to perform for a judge. Students receive personal comment sheets and ratings based on their performances.

“Solo & Ensemble is a great experience for students, it allows them to learn new songs and skills, while also improving their performance,” band teacher Brad Schmidt said. “I think everybody should participate in Solo & Ensemble, it’s such a great learning experience and you get in-person advice to help you in the future.”

Solo & Ensemble is an educational event that helps students improve many musical skills. It allows students to learn new music and perform in front of judges. Judges rate students on tone, intonation, accuracy, technique and expression.

“Solo & Ensemble is great, it helps me improve my playing and allows me to work with judges. To me, it’s also important because it helps me prove that I am a good player and better than others, despite what they may think,” trombonist Braydon Engebretson stated.

When preparing for the competition students put in a lot of work. Students who choose to participate through school, work on their piece during class and outside of school. They also come to weekly lessons. However, if they’re not doing it through school, students rehearsals are more frequent and intense.

Song selection is another important aspect of Solo & Ensemble. Songs are selected by the student’s instructor who selects songs based on the player’s abilities. The songs are ranked in classes A, B and C, C is for beginners, B is proficient and A is advanced. With a class A performance students also have a chance to go to state.

“When you are performing a piece during Solo & Ensemble it’s important to have a song that challenges you a little. It allows you to grow as a player or singer and show your skills. However, there are always risks with a challenging song. Sometimes you might not feel as confident which can definitely affect a performance and overall rating,” vocalist Destiny Matuszak said.

When performing, students are rated a one through five, one being the best. However, students who played a class A song may receive a 1*. This means they have qualified for state.

This year there were many participants from Stevens Point Area Senior High (SPASH). There were 32 band students, 58 orchestra students and 40 choir students who participated. Out of these students 19 from band, 41 from orchestra and 23 from choir will be attending state (some of these students will be performing multiple pieces). On top of that, five students are going to state for piano with a private teacher.

These students will be attending state on Saturday, May 5 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at UW-Stevens Point.

“I’m so proud of what other students and I have accomplished this year. We all worked so hard and I can’t wait till next year,” vocalist Ariana Sotelo said.

Some instrumental students take a short break before class. (Kacey Koch Photo)