Welcome back from winter break! I hope you enjoyed your time off and are ready to tackle Solo & Ensemble.
Much of the performance year is focused on group ensembles but ISSMA Solo and Ensemble gives you a great opportunity to focus on your individual playing. Mastering solos is an essential part of every musician’s career. Solos are a great way to improve your technical and expressive musical qualities and a great opportunity to become confident performing by yourself in front of others.
Practicing and performing solos requires a great deal of discipline. Unlike your band or orchestra class, you have to make time to not only practice your solo, but you need to schedule practice times with your accompanist, make sure that you know every part of your solo, and you have to balance this with any other activity (such as another ensemble) musical or otherwise.
Here are a few tips to get the most out of your solo:
- Master the notes and rhythms. This advice may seem basic but the first step in performing at the highest level is to master the basic components of the piece. In addition to notes and rhythm, work hard on making every note sound great!
- One you master the notes and rhythms, experiment with tempos in various sections. Part of a great solo (and general musicianship) is to have control over changes in tempo. While being able to stay with a metronome is important in practice, your performance will be much more musical if you allow tempos to fluctuate. Now this doesn’t mean change tempos whenever you want, rather, follow the various tempo markings throughout the piece but don’t be afraid to make the changes dramatic.
- Like the previous tip, don’t be afraid to be dramatic with dynamics. In a solo, you have to provide all of the dynamic (volume) changes, so if it’s a forte, make sure it’s dramatically different from piano.
- Work with your accompanist and make sure you are on the same page when it comes to tempos, dynamics and playing in sync with one another. The more you practice with your accompanist, the more natural the performance will be!
- As always, practice exactly how you want to perform. Never change the way you play when it’s a performance situation.
One final tip is to work on your solo with a private instructor. A private instructor will push you hard and will be able to help you master your instrument with their extreme attention to every aspect of your playing. They can also assist you with the above tips and getting the most out of your solo!