Solo and Ensemble ("S&E") is an extremely important activity - both for the students involved and for HSMA. The greater the participation in S&E, the better our performing groups become. Also, HSMA students' participation helps us to determine how well we are doing at educating our students relative to other public and private school programs. For the student, the benefits are tremendous:
- They get comments from an outstanding adjudicator on what they do well and areas they could focus on for improvement
- They gain confidence in playing independent or solo parts
- They learn more about different musical styles and how to properly interpret them
- They improve their overall musicality
- They earn the opportunity to be considered for various honors programs within HSMA, YAC and MSVMA.
- They have a great time!
For most of the S&E festivals, there is a rating system, with I ("Superior") being the best, and V being the worst. While a III is considered "average", there are relatively few III ratings awarded, and rarely a IV. Generally, a I or a II is considered well-prepared, and medals are awarded for I and II ratings.
HSMA views ratings a little differently than many others do. While every student should strive to earn a top rating, we do not focus on ratings. We have a saying at HSMA: We do the right thing, the right way, for the right reason, and the Lord will take care of the ratings. With over a decade of HSMA participation in S&E festivals, this has proven to be the case over and over again.
Although the requirements are different for each of the S&E festivals, there is typically a registration process and a cost to participate. For several of the S&E festivals, HSMA requires students to participate in an S&E Preparation Session with one or more of our conductors.