This February not only brings candy hearts and chocolate but the solo and ensemble contest that has been in the sights of the Band and Choir programs since September. In the upcoming month both plan to test their standings against other schools from around the region.
Band director Eric Ryan comments on the importance of this competition.
“This is a regional contest where students could qualify to go to state in April and compete with all the other regions across Washington,” Ryan said.
State competitions will be held in Ellensburg at Central Washington University April 24 and 25.
However regionals are being held here at Puyallup Feb. 28 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“I am in charge of putting the whole schedule together, coordinating rooms and hiring judges. It is a process that starts back in September,” Ryan said.
In addition to preparing his students, Ryan will be responsible for organizing 60 different performances from Puyallup combined with approximately another 150 from other schools.
“Every 10 minutes, a performance will be taking place in around 10 rooms throughout the school,” Ryan commented.
Fortunately assembling ensemble groups and practicing for solo performances is a primarily student driven task. Ryan is available for help if needed but mainly students must lead themselves, putting in time and effort in hopes of receiving a superior rating.
Solo and ensemble judging concerns a grading technique that differs from the typical gold, silver and bronze scale.
“Even though the judges choose a first, second and third place, it is hard to determine a winner. Each performance differs from one another. It is not an even playing field because each group consists of different songs and instruments so the judging is somewhat subjective,” Ryan said.
Student lead groups continue to practice as the regional competition continues to approach.
Band is not the only program swiftly organizing as an upcoming solo and ensemble contest increases its proximity.
Guenther and his choir students are currently putting the finishing touches on performances that will occur Feb. 7 here at PHS.
Choir director George Guenther is preparing to host the regional solo and ensemble competition as well.
“This is the competition where judges will choose which students will move on to compete with others from across the state,” Guenther said.
Come Saturday, high school choir ensembles and soloists from Federal Way, Sumner and Puyallup’s School Districts will sing in front of judges for the chance to travel to Ellensburg and compete on the state level.
Senior Natalie Breshears is a part of six different groups scheduled to perform at the upcoming choral contest.
“I have done this since seventh grade,” Breshears said. “I am always so excited to go and perform and get critiqued. I like to know how I am doing and how my groups are doing and what we can improve on.”
Preparing for a student lead competition like the solo and ensemble contest seems to require a dedication that could only come from the heart of its musicians.
“I love the different interpretations you can get from music. I could think of a song one way while someone else could have an entirely different view,” Breshears said.
This February, students from band and choir programs are giving their hearts away not to their crushes but to notes on a page and the drive to succeed in their love of music.