South Music Students Perform at Solo/Ensemble


Senior Lauren Pfiefer practices to get ready for state. Singing the “Black Swan”

Nicolas Prahl, Writer

Playing by yourself, or in a duet, or even a trio can sometimes be exhilarating. Well… That’s what some of the students had to do just this past weekend for solo/ensemble. Being in Solo/Ensemble shows extreme bravery, confidence, and strength since you are up there playing by yourself or with not that many people in front of a professional judge. It can be very nerve racking but it isn’t at all as bad as it may seem.

This year Solo/Ensemble was hosted at Sheboygan North High School, with performances held in teachers classrooms. The music event gives student musicians the opportunity to perform at the next level and engages orchestra, band and choir students.  Solo/Ensemble typically goes back and forth each year between North and South just so that both schools are able to have a place to hold the performances.

Solo/Ensemble is a day where you or others are able to play a piece of music in front of a judge. This can be by solo, duet, trio, etc… the grading scale ranges from 1 (being the best) to a 5. With two classes (A and B). A being the higher class while B is the lower. The piece that you choose to perform, will be the result as to why you are in that class. For Class B the best score you are able to earn is a regular 1. While for Class A, the best score you are able to get is a 1*. The * meaning state. So if your musical talent has what it takes and you earn the 1*, congratulations on your upcoming trip to the state music competition. Students are able to get a regular 1 which means you did an awesome job, but you won’t be going to state. Musicians statewide who earn a 1* are all moving about UW Milwaukee campus on April 27th for a chaotic all day event.

Here is typically what the judges use to grade you. Almost like a rubric but for music. It shows what musical element you performed positivity as well as negativity. It gives you a brief summary of what the numbers mean as to why you earned the score that you did. (1 being the best, 10 being the worst.)

There are a lot of adults that get students ready for the big Solo/Ensemble day. Band teachers, orchestra teachers, and even accompanists. Accompanists are someone who volunteers to play with the student(s) on the big day, along with practicing with them.

One out of many adults that helped students get ready for the big day would be your very own band teacher here at South High. Wade Heinen states, “I always enjoy the day of solo/ensemble festival.  It gives individual students a chance to “shine” on additional music that they selected and chose to put the extra practicing into.  I felt the festival went very well. The judges’ scores were appropriate for how students had performed and I appreciated how their comments were focused on improvement. The one thing that shocked me the day of the festival was in returning home after it was over, I heard how poorly the Wisconsin Men’s Basketball team did against Michigan State.”

At this time, it can also be a little stressful. Depending on how many events you are scheduled in and the type of event you are in, you may need to learn a little of pieces resulting in a lot of practice and freaking out. Along with Senior Kayleigh Entringer stating, “I think the most stressful thing about solo ensemble is if the judge is going to like the piece or not. I have spent the last 2 1/2 to 3 months trying to perfect pieces given to me with the thought in the back of my mind that if I screw up there is no going back. Don’t get me wrong, I love solo ensemble day and I generally do very well. This year I scored a 1 on my solo and Jazz Ensemble 1 is going to state! I had no doubt that we weren’t going to achieve state-level marks, even with technical difficulties. I definitely am excited about playing at

Senior Lauren Pfiefer practices to get ready for state. Singing the “Black Swan”

UW-Milwaukee next month for Jazz 1 since I have never gone to state before. I think we’ll do really well there too.” And on the other hand, some students are very confident in their performances. Senior Ezekiel Grunow stated, “I’m the best there is. Plain and simple. Every morning I wake up and breath excellence. The judge is lucky to have heard me perform.”

But in the end, everyone does an awesome job, and they end up getting an awesome score. Yes, it can get stressful, or even exhausting, but if you ask anyone that was in it, odds are that they will always talk positively about it.