Solo Contest is a Big Deal

Preparing a music solo is one of the most challenging and rewarding activities in music education. Solo Contest is a big deal! It is a big deal for me as a teacher to see them learn and work on a piece of music to the best of their ability. It is a big deal for you as a parent because of your investment and interest in your child’s education. And it is a big deal for your child in three main ways:

Education – Students who participate in solo contest have a greater understanding of their music and appreciation for their instrument.

Motivation – Students who participate in solo contest practice well and receive an award for their hard work.

Dedication – Students who participate in solo contest are more likely to enjoy playing their instrument and continue playing in band.

Students will look back on this event feeling a sense of achievement and knowing that they accomplished something significant.

Below are 7 practice strategies to help them as they are preparing their solo.

1. Slow motion: Practice small sections of difficult passages slowly until everything is correct.

2. Break it Down: Make a challenging part simple by playing only the rhythm on one note. Practice the fingers separately and then apply to the rhythm.

3. Focused repetition: Choose a reasonable number of repetitions (3 – 5 times is recommended) for a short passage. Some students might like to use charts or some other type of counting gimmicks (M&Ms) to keep track. Suggest that they start over again when they make a mistake.

4. Variation: Find ways to change a passage being practiced just for fun by changing the notes or fingerings. Then go back to the original version.

5. Singing: If you can sing it, you can play it. It is important for the listening portion of the brain to have a tonal image of the sound. (Starting a good listening library should be every musician’s goal.)

6. Mental rehearsal: Visualizing how to practice a section of a piece of music is important. The brain must be engaged on the physical aspect of the performing with respect to breathing, fingerings and posture.

7. Record and assess: For some students, it’s difficult to remember errors that occurred during a practice session. Recording a performance, lesson, or practice session is not only fun, listening to the result can be an eye-opener. It encourages students to self assess and critique privately.

You may email your music teacher for more ideas on effective practice techniques.

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