• Solo & Ensembles Information

    Attention IMS Thunderbird Band members and parents!

    I’d like to take this time to inform you of an opportunity to participate in Solo & Ensembles Festival.

    Solo and Ensembles (S&E) takes place each year in February of each year (usually the first week).

    Here are the steps involved:

    1. Students will choose a solo selection to perform from a list of approved solos. This information will be available below.(Click here for link to FBA solo and Ensemble list check back often for updates)
    2. After a solo is chosen and approved by the director students should begin working on the material. It is the student’s responsibility to periodically make time to meet with the director for help.
    3. Typically students should meet with the director 5 times to check on progress towards performance. The first session is to get an initial idea of the student’s ability and understanding of the music. The second session is to identify major trouble spots and discuss strategies to correct them. Third session is to gain an idea of how “performance ready” the student is without the piano accompanist and also an introduction to the piano accompaniment part so that the student will know what to focus on for their next session. The fourth session is when the student performas with the piano accompanist working out minor performance related details (tempo  changes, dynamics, etc.) The last session is a run through of the entire recital.
    4.  Students will show up to S&E at their scheduled time to perform for their judge. At the end of the performance the judge will give constructive critisicm and performance tips.
    5.  Students will know their rating the day of the performance. Students who score a superior or excellent will be awarded a metal for their performance.




    The very first thing is to make sure you choose a solo at the Grade level for how many years you have been playing.

    Year 1 MS students should only consider doing a Grade 1 solo if they are taking private lessons regularly, otherwise, they should wait until Year 2.

    Year 2 MS students must do a Grade 1 solo. 

    Year 3 MS students must receive at least an Excellent rating on a Grade 1 solo before moving to a Grade 2 solo. 

    Find the Grade level solos for your instrument on the S&E Music List from the link above and LISTEN to all the solos before making your final choice by looking for them on youtube or itunes. You do not need to SEE the MUSIC first before choosing. It is more important that you LISTEN to the solos first to decide which ones you like the most. Remember, if you don't think a solo is beautiful, you won't be able to play it beautifully and artistically for the judge!

    Once you choose the solo you like the most by LISTENING to it, then you may search for your solo on JWPepper.com to see an example of the music and purchase it. If JWPepper.com does not have your solo, then the publisher should be specified on the music list so that you can purchase the solo directly from the publisher. Make sure the composer, publisher, and edition all match the one on the music list. Some solos have different versions, and the music list usually only approves a specific version. If you accidentally purchase and learn the wrong version of the solo, you may be disqualified from performing at the festival.


    Summer - Purchase Music and start listening to and practicing your solo

    Quarter 1 - Record first half of solo/ensemble with metronome on correct tempo marking(s)

                        Schedule at least Two lesson with Mr. Nottage after school.

    Quarter 2 - Record second half of solo/ensemble with metronome on correct tempo marking(s)

                        Schedule at least Two lesson with Mr. Nottage after school.

    Quarter 3 - Schedule at least ONE final lesson with Mr. Nottage after school.

                        Make appointment with accompanist. (a fee may apply for his/her services).            

    You must have your original solo part with numbered measures for YOU to play from at the event. Your original piano part or score is to be numbered as well and handed to the JUDGE at the event. The piano accompanist may play from piano part copies. 

    Small Ensembles

    Duets, Trios and Quartets will be allowed for small ensembles. Quintets will only be allowed for Brass Quintet. Other combinations will not be allowed. See "Choirs" below.

    Flute Duet, Trio, Quartet (Quartet should be 4 C flutes, or C-C-Alto-Bass)

    Oboe Duets, Trios and Quartets can be any combination of Oboes and English Horns

    Bassoon Duet, Trios and Quartets can be any combination of Bassoons

    Double-Reed Quartets can be OOEB, or OOBB

    Clarinet Duet, Trio, Quartet (Quartet can be 4 Bb Clarinets, or Bb-Bb-Bb-Bass Cl)

    Saxophone Duet, Trio, Quartet (Quartets should be SATB, or AATB

    Woodwind Quartet is usually Fl, Ob, Cl, Bssn

    Trumpet Duet, Trio, Quartet

    French Horn Duet, Trio, Quartet

    Low Brass Duet, Trio, Quartet (Quartets can be any 4 low brass combinations)

    Brass Quintet (Trumpet-Trumpet-Horn-Trombone-Tuba)

    String duets and trios can be any combination. (String quartet is Violin 1-Violin 2-Viola-Cello)


    Choirs will only be considered if the correct minimum participants and instrumentation is available:

    Flute Choir - minimum 1 Piccolo, 6 Flute, 2 Alto flutes, 2 Bass flutes

    Clarinet Choir - minimum 1 Eb clarinet, 6 clarinets, 2 Alto clarinets, 2 Bass clarinets

    Saxophone Choir - minimum 2 Soprano Saxes, 4 Alto Saxes, 2 Tenor Saxes, 2 Bari Saxes

    Woodwind Choir - 1 Picc, 2 Fl, 2 Ob, 2 Bssn, 3 Cl, 1 B.Cl, 2 Alto, 2 Tenor, 1 Bari.

    Brass Choir - Minimum 4 Trumpets, 2 French Horns, 2 Trombones, 2 Euphoniums, 2 Tubas

    Mallet Ensemble - instrumentation varies by piece

    Percussion Ensemble - instrumentation varies by piece

    Attire for this event:

     Students are to wear NICE clothes!  Ladies should wear a dress or skirt & blouse (NOT SHORT); gentlemen should be in slacks/khakis (not jeans) & a nice collared shirt (ties are suggested!).  Dress for Success!  Students are responsible for keeping up with their instrument, music and personal belongings.  You will want to bring money for the concession stand or bring your own water bottle and snacks/lunch.  Students need to read the “What is the Judge Looking For?” information below for helpful hints and then implement the tips for their preparation.

    It is fun and challenges your abilities. This is an opportunity to improve your skills as a musician. By doing so you are also helping the group become much better.Why should I participate in S&E?

    I don’t think I’m that good. Is this event for me?

    The purpose of the event is to make you better. You don’t have to be the world’s greatest player. Just be willing to focus on areas of improvement and do your best. In the end you’ll find the process to be very rewarding.




         Enter the room dressed appropriately and with quiet confidence.  If the judge is writing or speaking to someone else, quietly get your stand, your accompanist and YOU settled in the most logical position.  Soloists should stand. 

         At the appropriate time, introduce yourself, tell the judge what you will be performing and give him the music.  There is no need to shake hands.  This is also the time to mention any cuts or repeats that are departures from what’s on the music.  He will then probably tell you to get settled and blow a few notes.

         Have a plan for tuning and a short (ten seconds) warm up.  This should not sound like you’re practicing.  When the time is right, he will say “I’m ready for your performance”.

         Don’t count off.  Communicate with your accompanist or ensemble visually.

         Correct mistakes quickly and as unnoticeably as possible.  If anyone notices, they’ll be listening for how quickly you recover.

         After the last note, give the impression that you did well even if you think you did not.  Don’t show extremes in emotion.

         Be prepared to answer the question, “What would you have done differently?”

         Most judges like to interact with the students.  Be attentive.  Using “Sir” and “Ma’am” is appropriate.



         Notes, rhythms and articulations must be correct and tone quality and intonation must be acceptable.

         Dynamics are relative.  Strive for contrast but don’t let piano sound weak or forte sound distorted.  Get very soft at the beginning of a crescendo.

         The tempo should reflect the style.  You might need to compromise faster tempos for accuracy.  Is your piece within your technical capabilities?

         Know the correct interpretation of every articulation mark and foreign term.

         Many times the interpretation of ornaments is determined by when the piece was composed.  Know the basic differences between the Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Twentieth Century Periods as they relate to music.



        Nervousness is sometimes an issue.  We can make suggestions but there are no concrete solutions.  However, the efficient use of AIR has the qualities to make a lot of things work better.  Breathe properly and you’ll be less nervous, your tone will be clearer, intonation will be easier to adjust, phrases will last longer, dynamics will be easier to control, tonguing and articulations will be facilitated, you will not tire as fast, your musicianship will improve and all will be right with the world.


    (Information borrowed from Mr. Al Hager, Certified FBA Adjudicator,)