Band members excel at Solo and Ensemble


photo by Jacob Arthur

Daniella Parcell, News Editor

 After excusing herself to take an encouraging hug from her mom, senior Hunter Winters nervously inhaled before playing the first note of Johann Friedrich Fasch’s Sonata in C, a piece that had consumed her mind for the past four months.

Despite her trembling fingers and temporary stage fright, Winters’ performance was one of 33 from the school to receive a Superior rating at the district band Solo and Ensemble on Friday, Feb. 13.

Solo and Ensemble is a two-day festival where band members from across the district perform either individually or in small groups for a musically qualified judge.  Each performance then receives a rating, ranging from Superior to Poor, along with feedback regarding the improvements musicians can make.  As it focuses on individual performance, the event forces musicians to motivate themselves and prepare without the guidance of their band directors.

“It was challenging because all the different parts [of my ensemble] didn’t really fit together,” senior Grayson Sweeney said.  “So going into the event, it was actually pretty nerve-wracking.”

While most individual performances tend to be competitive, Solo and Ensemble is not an audition or a competition, but rather a way for students to showcase individual talents while receiving more personalized criticism.

“It’s a really neat experience for me to practice performing by myself, to grow as a musician, and to work on my weaknesses while showing off my strengths,” Winters said.

Those given Superior ratings now have the opportunity to perform at the state Solo and Ensemble in late March.  While the same rating scale exists, musicians are judged more critically at the state event, forcing them to work even harder to perfect their performances over the next month.

Solo and Ensemble is hard enough, state just raises the caliber,” Winters said.  “It’s no longer just rhythms and ‘can you play the notes on the page well,’ it’s ‘do you have musical abilities’ and ‘are you a good musician.’”

As they prepare for state Solo and Ensemble, band members are also rehearsing for Music Performance Assessment on Thursday, March 5 and a final concert on Friday, May 8.