Things to remember for Solo & Ensemble 2020

Autumn Lee, Reporter

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1. The Basics

To begin, WSMA requires a performer to prepare a piece–whether it is a solo, duet, trio, quartet–that is properly registered and picked from the WSMA festival list, which has pieces ranging from A class (highest level of music) to C class (lowest level of music). With this piece, the performer must have:
An introduction. Performers should state what piece they are performing with their name, grade and school, the piece’s name, composers name, an interesting fact, and, if they have one, the name of their accompanist.

A copy for themselves, their accompanist (for solo events), and for the judge. It is important to have an original copy for the judge. If a performer does not have a copy for the judge, they will not be allowed to perform. Performers also need to number the measures on both copies.
A properly prepared piece. It sounds simple enough, but many performers fail to look at the requirements for their piece and occasionally miss the fact they need another movement to be prepared, which is awkward for both the performer and the judge.

2. The Judges

What should an inexperienced performer expect? What are the judges like? What should I wear? What about breaks in between events? Let’s address the most important subject: judges. For many, the thought of being judged is a scary notion. But it’s not as bad as it seems. Performers should expect 99% of the judges to be kind, straightforward, respectful, constructive, and helpful. Some may give harsher criticism, but this will allow you to become a better musician, and that is the end goal of all judges. Never take a judge’s comments personally. The last thing you should worry about is how scary or mean the judge will be. But if you are unprepared, rude, overconfident, and disregard their criticism, be prepared to get an angry judge.

3. The Attire

Attire is also a major factor that can affect a musician’s first impression. Here are a few tips:
Girls: wear a nice, comfortable dress. Don’t go all out with designer high-heels and expensive hair extensions. Something casual, such as a cute floral dress, will do. If you want to be safe, stick to black and white attire. Don’t wear heels!
Guys: wear something casual. Don’t come in with a suit and tie. Try some khakis and a simple white shirt with a fancy tie. If you want to be safe, stick to black and white attire.
Theatre Solos: dress the part! Go all out!

4. The Grading Process

There is a “grading” system in place. A 1* means that the performer has the opportunity to go to WSMA State, which happens about a month after the competition. A 1 indicates that the performer performed at an exceedingly high level. A 2 shows that the performer has good skill in their musicianship. A 3 means the performer showed average skill. A 4 and a 5 indicates the performer showed a level below average. Most performers will not get this score as long as they prepare the piece correctly. A disqualification is given if the performer did not prepare anything at all or was missing a requirement.

5. The Breaks

As for breaks, there should be food present at the cafeteria, but be sure to bring your own water bottle and a few snacks, especially if you have more than 2 events. Be sure to know when you are performing and when to take breaks. In addition, people may use their breaks to go and watch other people perform. You are allowed to an audience as you play, but if not, be sure to make it clear to your friends and other people. It is also important to make sure you get to your spot 5-10 minutes before your performance. Be aware that time frames may shift and areas may be going faster/slower than predicted.

6. Pace Yourself

It is important to note overplaying. Don’t cram last second. Take it slow and steady. Take many breaks and, if you aren’t used to practicing for an hour, slowly build up to that time. Don’t go from practicing 20 minutes to 2 hours in one night, you’ll feel overwhelmed and frustrated. And don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you take your time, focus, and relax, the results will show.