Practicing and preparing for a judged contest requires dedication and focus. The contest environment can be intimidating for first-time students. Parents will expect that each contest is being run in a professional and efficient manner. Using Solo-Ensemble.com for local Solo and Ensemble contest management allows the contest director to make better use of their volunteer labor force and greatly simplify the work of the contest staff, allowing everyone to focus on making the student and parent experience more enjoyable.
Students verbally provide their contest information to each judge, who writes down the student name and school, the name of the performance, and the difficulty level at which the student or ensemble is performing. There is no straightforward way to communicate any additional information to the judge regarding a particular student or ensemble. Following the performance, the judge writes down their score and a written critique of the work, normally as helpful observations and encouragement. The score sheets are kept by the judge until they are picked up by volunteers (sometimes called “runners”) who collect the sheets from the judges and bring them back to the contest office for “data processing” (typing the information into a spreadsheet or database). At regular intervals, the results from the most recent performances are printed, walked to a common area (for example a cafeteria or gymnasium) and posted on the wall for students and parents to see. This process can take over an hour between the performance time and the time the score is posted.
Before the contest
School Staff members decide which music performances will be assigned to each student, entering the basic student information (name, grade) and the performance information (name of piece, composer, difficulty level) online at the contest website (into a secure database). This information can be updated by the School Staff or the Contest Staff, even on the day of the contest, including adding or removing students from the list.
On the contest day
Each solo student or ensemble leader is provided a unique Performance ID number by their school, which they show the judge at the beginning of their performance. The judge enters the Performance ID into Solo-Ensemble.com, which displays all of the performance information; the judge simply verifies it with the student(s) before the performance begins. If a student does not have their Performance ID, the judge can look up the student information in the database to locate the proper performance. Additional commentary or notes to the judge may be included by each band director. These comments are only visible to the judge, and do not appear on the final scoring sheets. Judges use a laptop, tablet, or computer to enter their scores and their comments into a web-based form. The scores and comments are stored securely and instantly in an online database, where they can be reviewed by the contest director and contest staff. The scores can be shown to waiting students, parents, and school band directors in an easy-to-read scrolling screen format (projected onto a large screen or blank wall space has been shown to work very well for this).