Paper-based Solo and Ensemble contests normally begin a judged session by having the performing student(s) provide their identifying information to the judge, such as name, grade, performance name, composer, and difficulty level. The judge writes this information onto a paper form, and writes his or her professional evaluation (opinions and score) onto the form. Following the judging of each performance, the forms are placed into a special courier folder or envelope. Every few minutes (the timing depends on the number of volunteers and the number of judges), trusted volunteers visit each performance room and collect the hand-written judged performances. These volunteers must wait until a break between performances to collect these papers, which is a time consuming process. Once the paper leaves the room, the judge has no easy ability to review or modify their scores, or to review how they have scored during the contest so far.
Prior to their first contest, each judge sets up a profile on the Solo-Ensemble.com site that belongs uniquely to them. From this login profile they can see all Solo and Ensemble contests to which they are currently assigned. A Solo-Ensemble.com contest director may also set up a default judge profile for any of their judges that may not already have a profile.
Prior to the start of the contest, all judges gather with the contest director for a brief tutorial in using the Solo-Ensemble.com web application. The software is very intuitive and most judges learn to use the system in 5-10 minutes with no difficulty. Once a judge logs in and selects the current contest, they are greeted with a personalized welcome screen. As each band student or ensemble sets up for their performance, they provide a unique Performance ID number to the Judge, who enters it onto the web page, where it displays the information about the performance and input fields for the judge’s comments and score. In case there is an error with the ID provided (or if it is lost), the judge can search the Solo-Ensemble.com database for the student or ensemble (for example by School name and Student name).