Solos and Small Ensembles Preparation

Jeneva Craig, RayPec Now Co-Editor

Choir students get to exhibit their skills in concerts, but on March 5th, the musicians will be able to perform solo or group pieces for district competition. Preparation for these performances start before Christmas break, so students are able to perfect their abilities as much as possible.

Solos and small ensembles take work and dedication. The pieces of music are chosen by the musicians in December. Music is found on a list that has been regulated by Missouri. There are different levels of pieces that are listed by difficulty in a scale of A, B, C. They can choose from a range of pieces, students try to choose a piece that shows their range and they work to improve themselves as they work through the piece. After choosing a song, students need some guidance while working through their pieces. Choir Director Stephen Rew explains how he works to support his students through their hard work.

“I give them time in class and there are also after school rehearsals students can sign up for, but 90% of the work is on them. We also have Pre-Contest in February where we bring in a judge and give the kids feedback to better themselves before districts in March,” Rew said.

Some students set goals for themselves going into a competition like this. A student who reaches for a 1 rating at districts will be able to move onto the state competition at Mizzou University. Sophomore Choir Member Destinee Shaffer is performing two solos and an ensemble, and she talks about her plans for her pieces.

“I am doing 2 solos and 1 ensemble this year. My ensemble’s songs are ‘Music’s Echo’ and ‘askjdnfj’” Shaffer said.

This competition takes a lot of responsibility, students have to hold themselves accountable with practices. Students have to schedule times to work together, if they are doing an ensemble and time to better themselves as individuals if they are doing a solo. Junior Choir Member Ronald Graves talks through his rehearsal schedule.

“My rehearsal process is hard because I just got back from MMEA but I’m going to hit my music everyday to relieve the stress,” Graves said.

Each song includes a different amount of difficulty and can be better fit for a student than another. Students look through the music and see what works best for them. They look through the different types of dynamics and tone that are a part of the music. Shaffer discusses what goes into picking a piece of music for her solo and ensemble.

“When I picked my pieces I made sure they were contrasting to each other. I sang through it to see how it fit in my voice and to see if I liked the song,” Shaffer said.

Throughout the experience of solo and ensemble, students get to learn how to better themselves independently. By putting in the work, musicians are able to greatly improve their skills overtime. Rew explains the experience students get out of participating in solos and ensembles.

“Most of the work is preparation, but by working through the music they are able to take themselves on a journey towards improvement,” Rew said.

This experience can be nerve wracking and can cause stress for students. Each student has a way to work through the stress of practicing and performing. Graves explains how he deals with stage fright.

“I have a bit of stage fright, but it helps also doing theater where I’m constantly in front of people expressing my “character”. It’s different in choir though, I’m myself and I have to express my emotions and heart through music,” Graves said.

Students can participate in solos and ensembles all four years of high school. Many work to improve over the course of their high school career. Shaffer talks about her solos in the past and how she wants to do better this year.

“Last year my solos and ensemble both got a second rating. This year I hope to get a first rating on everything,” Shaffer said.

As students work through their music they will develop their skill and try to become better musicians. This competition can be difficult when one does it alone, but through the guidance of a director one can make beautiful music.