Music Students Compete at Solo and Ensemble

Ethan Zhang

Every March, talented musicians from around the Elmbrook school district gather  for the annual Solo and Ensemble competition. Once a year, these student musicians are given the opportunity to perform in front of a judge and receive feedback. These musicians can choose to play in a solo, ensemble, or both, hence the name. Two Spartan musicians were interviewed about their music experiences through preparing and performing at Solo and Ensemble. Abby Winn (12), a versatile musician who plays the viola and piano, and Grant Atkinson (10),  a bassist. 

One thing that both of these talented young musicians have is grit. Preparing to play in front of a judge is never easy, especially when you are performing five times in one day. Winn explains the work she’s put in “I’ll be in Jazz one, Jazz two, the middle school jazz band, a string quartet, and then a piano solo. For the Jazz ones I’ve been showing up to the rehearsals and practicing the things I don’t feel super secure about. For my piano one, I’ve been playing a couple hours a day.” Winn is just one of the dedicated musicians playing at Solo Ensemble this year.

Atkinson, much like Winn, has put into a lot of effort into preparing for Solo and Ensemble. “I’ve played during solo and ensemble times during rehearsal and I’ve had a couple lessons.” 

Even though these musicians have put much effort into preparing, there still have been some challenges along the way. Atkinson shares some of the obstacles that have been in his way: “Finding time to practice [is challenging]”.

Winn agrees. “Honestly, getting a good practice schedule with all of the events I’m doing because they overlap alot and I can’t always meet certain groups to practice when I have a conflict that day or when I have individual practice that day too.” 

However, the hard work these musicians put in are rewarding in the end. Atkinson shares some of the fruits of his labors “It’s always good to practice something and get good at it, It’s always a little bit rewarding. The solo is a little bit hard and I used to suck at it. And now, it sounds ok, it doesn’t want you to wish you were deaf. That’s something to be proud of.” 

Winn believes this as well, and is always looking to improve. “They give us some good feedback.” 

Judges at Solo and Ensemble give a score of 5-1, one being the best score and five the worst. If a musician receives a one star, they will move on to state, another reward for the countless hours put into practicing.

Solo and Ensemble has proven to be a difficulty to prepare for, but in the end, it is rewarding yet the same. It allows for musicians to challenge themselves and improve as individuals.