B-ESD Participation in 2017 Solo and Ensemble

Micah Young, News Reporter/Writer

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On January 28, the annual San Juan Music Educator’s Association (SJMEA) Solo and Ensemble competition took place at Bellingham High School. The annual event invites student musicians from across the state to go and show off their skills, either as a soloist or as a group. Anyone from the grades 9-12 may participate as long as they attend a music program at a high school within the counties Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, or the San Juan Islands.

Both band and choir students are invited to participate and perform to individuals who are extremely skilled and knowledgeable about either the instrument(s) being played or the parts being sung (soprano, alto, tenor, bass). People who perform exceptionally well may be invited further on into the SJMEA competition, which eventually ranks the best student musician in the state for every instrument and voice.

Students who choose to dedicate their time to practicing a piece or song to the best of their abilities get to Bellingham on their own accord, so this event truly is one that requires the students to plan everything out on their own. The benefit from such an event is that those involved get the best advice possible to help them become better musicians on the piece they perform and find ways to incorporate that advice to their futures for anything they may do in music.

This year the amount of B-EHS students participating was significantly higher due to higher amounts of teacher encouragement, both in the band and choir categories. There was the annual clarinet quartet (which is this year being enlarged to a quintet) known as the Tiger Quartet and the normal flute solo by Alexandria Kissas.

This year there were several more additions, from a trombone duet to a flute/oboe duet and many solos. On the choir side, there are many students performing solos, as well as several duets and numerous group performances.

Students who performed played pieces or songs of the classical nature, and most were typically written by very well known composers, such as Bach and Mozart. After the performance, the adjudicator then gave helpful pieces of advice. They then privately graded it and sent the results into possibly allow people to be invited further into the competition.

“I like to think that solo and ensemble is the most difficult to put together, but it’s so much fun, and well worth it in the end. This year we even got a score of an excellent, which is the first time that our clarinet group has gotten that score. We’ve never gotten higher than that in the past 4 years.” Cordell Bruns, member of this year’s clarinet quintet, just described how most students feel solo and ensemble is. It’s a difficult event to become ready for as the student(s) are completely independent of their teachers when it comes to rehearsal. While teachers assist more often than not, practicing the pieces performed is entirely up to the student to accomplish.

“I wanted to participate in the clarinet quintet to spend time with friends, especially those who are graduating, before they go. It’s also a really great way to hone your skills,” said Claire Padilla, ‘19, when asked about her favorite aspect of solo and ensemble. The social aspect is most definitely a benefit to the event, giving students across schools ways to meet and interact, as well as giving students within the same school the opportunity to spend time together and to work on their music at the same time.

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B-ESD Participation in 2017 Solo and Ensemble