NYSSMA Solo Festival
Each year the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) conducts the NYSSMA Solo Festival in locations all across the state. The festival gives students the opportunity to prepare a solo which a certified NYSSMA judge evaluates and grades based on very specific criteria. The solo not only gives participants the opportunity to set goals and strive for higher levels of excellence, but it also means that they may be nominated for honors bands (HMEA, SCMEA, NYSCAME, All-State) the following year.
What are the NYSSMA Solo Festival Levels?
The NYSSMA Solo festival is broken down into the following levels of difficulty:
Level I - Very Easy
Level II - Easy
*Level III - Moderately Easy
Level IV - Moderately Difficult
Level V - Difficult
Level VI - Very Difficult
*All students wishing to partake in NYSSMA at the High School level must be able to complete a Level III solo by their 8th grade year
What music may I select for my solo?
The music you choose to perform must come from the most current NYSSMA Manual. The selections are listed by instrument and solo level. The version you perform must match exactly with the one listed in the manual - composer, editor, arranger and publisher. When you perform for the judge, you must have two originals of the solo - one for yourself and the other for the judge. If the piece has a piano accompaniment, the piano part may be given to the judge. If you are doing an All-State audition, you must be accompanied by piano and therefore you must have three originals. Photocopied music is not permitted and you will not be able to perform if you bring copied music into your evaluation.
What are the requirements for Wind and String NYSSMA Solo Festival participants?
Wind and string musicians who participate in the NYSSMA Solo Festival are required to perform the following items for the judge:
- A solo piece listed in the most current NYSSMA Manual
- Three scales from memory based on the level of their solo
- A sight reading piece selected by the NYSSMA judge
What are the scale requirements for the Wind and String NYSSMA Solo Festival?
All wind and string musicians must perform three one octave scales from memory, however the number of scales needed to be memorized will vary depending on the solo level.
- Levels I and II - Memorize 3 Major scales / Perform all 3 scales
- Levels III and IV - Memorize 7 Major scales / Perform 3 of those 7 scales as selected by the NYSSMA judge
- Levels V and VI - Memorize 15 Major scales / Perform 3 of those 15 scales as selected by the NYSSMA judge
All scales, regardless of level, are to be performed one octave, ascending and descending, from memory at a moderate tempo.
What Items Are Evaluated on the Solo?
Every wind solo is evaluated for the following items:
Vibrato (where appropriate)
Accuracy of Note
Accuracy of Rhythms
Steadiness of Rhythms
What is the sight-reading requirement?
All instrumentalists (wind, string and percussion) are required to perform an eight-measure melody which is given to them by the NYSSMA judge. Soloists are given a minimum of one minute to study the piece before having to play it for the judge. Only the soloist and judge are permitted in the room for the sight-reading portion of the evaluation. Specific details of the sight-reading requirement can be found in the most current NYSSMA Manual.
What should I wear for my evaluation?
While there are no specific dress requirements for the evaluation, it is recommended that you dress as well as possible. First impressions are always very important, so students who walk into the evaluation room dressed for success will leave the impression that they are poised, confident and prepared for their evaluations.
Is a private teacher required?
You are not required to hire a private teacher in order to participate in the NYSSMA Solo Festival. Many students have been very successful coming for extra help and working on the music alone and with teachers at school. However, if finances permit, it is highly recommended that students find a good private teacher to help them achieve the highest levels possible. Private teachers are especially recommended for anyone going for a Level V, Level VI or All-State audition.