The DISTRICT VIII SOLO & ENSEMBLE FESTIVAL is a chance for students to prepare and perform solos or chamber music in front of a judge for comments only or for a rating.  Solos are pieces performed by you alone or with piano accompaniment.  Chamber music, otherwise known as ensembles, are pieces performed by two or more students, usually playing similar instruments.  (i.e. brass quintet, clarinet ensemble, percussion ensemble)

There are two levels of Solo & Ensemble…

  1. District VIII Level—Performers from throughout Howard County.

  2. State Level—Performers from throughout Maryland.

NOTE:  Students must first participate at the District VIII Level.  Students who receive a rating of “I” (Superior) at the District VIII Level will be invited to participate at the State Level.

NOTE:  To get the most from the opportunity...students should prepare their audition under the guidance of a private instructor or your ensemble director.


Please Note: The Music Office of The Howard County Public School System compiled the accompanist list.  The names were provided at the request of those who are listed, some of which are school system employees.  It should be understood that this list does not represent a recommendation or endorsement by the school system.



Interested students should pick and begin preparing an appropriate solo/ensemble as soon as possible.  To get the most from the opportunity, students should prepare their solo/ensemble under the guidance of a private teacher or your ensemble director.  In late December/early January, registration information will be sent to your ensemble director.  Students must complete the Registration Form and return it to their ensemble director with the appropriate fees by the deadline indicated.  Students will be required to fill out separate forms at the district and the state level.


  • $10.00 per solo

  • $5.00 per performer for ensembles

In addition to your registration fee, all students performing solos will have to pay for a piano accompanist.  The rates of accompanists vary from person to person, on the difficulty of the piece, and depending on how many rehearsals/performances are required.


NO, this is not an audition and no one is “chosen” for Solo & Ensemble.  This is a chance to perform for a qualified and respected judge/musician who can offer you feedback on how to improve your playing.  Even thought this is NOT an audition, you will be performing one on one.


The music performed at the District VIII Solo & Ensemble Festival must be selected from the list of solos/ensembles approved by the Maryland Music Educators Association and published on the Solo & Ensemble List.  Actual copies of the music must be purchased from your local music store or ordered through appropriate distributors.  You must not perform from photocopies – that is illegal!  Sometimes, ensemble literature may be borrowed from your ensemble director.


The best advice regarding selection of an appropriate solo or ensemble comes from your private teacher or your ensemble director.


It is you responsibility to contact a piano accompanist for both rehearsals and performance.  Check with your ensemble director for a list of qualified, professional piano accompanists.  You will need to pay them for their time and efforts.  Check out Working with Piano Accompanists if you are going to perform a solo.



  1. Contact the piano accompanist and secure rehearsals and the performance date/time

  2. Get the piano music to the piano accompanist as soon as possible

  3. Arrange for financial compensation

  4. Be professional at all times


  • Contact a piano accompanist as soon as possible. If they are able to accompany you, it is important to give them as much time as possible to prepare.

Introduce yourself…

Give your name/school/where you got their telephone number

If the piano accompanist was recommended to you, this is the time to mention that person’s name as well.

Give your instrument and who you study withCheck their availability and their willingness to accompany you…

Give them the date and time of your performance(s).

DO NOT make this call unless you have this information readily available.  If you are unable to give them specific dates/times, provide as much information as possible, with an assurance that you will call them with all pertinent information as soon as possible.

Give them the location of the performance

Inquire about cost.  Many pianists may want to see the music before they commit, but they should be able to provide you with a cost range. 


  • Write the measure numbers in your music and the piano part. (YES, each measure!) It is required for most festivals and auditions anyway. Double check that all rehearsal marks agrees between solo part and piano part.

  • Arrange with your piano accompanist about how to get the music to them.

  • Use original music only!! Photocopies of music are illegal! If the music is worth practicing and performing, it is worth purchasing.

  • Do not expect a piano accompanist to perform without sufficient rehearsal. Remember to be professional at all times.


  • It is your responsibility to arrange rehearsals with your piano accompanist.

  • Try to have at least two (2) rehearsals during your private lessons so that you can have a coach hear you and give advice.

  • Respond to phone messages immediately. Time is too short!!

  • Keep a date book with rehearsals noted prominently.

  • In the event that you need to cancel a rehearsal, contact your piano accompanist first! If you are unable to contact them directly, leave a message at all of the places where they would receive a message. It is important to get all contact information from your piano accompanist when you first contact them.


  • Be prepared to perform to your fullest. This is not a practice session for you to work out notes and rhythms.

  • Be early for all rehearsals.

  • Warm-up prior to the rehearsal. Do not waste the piano accompanists time.

  • VOCALISTS: If you are playing a transcription of a song, it is imperative to know the words and provide them (with translations if necessary) to your piano accompanist.

  • Always be polite, professional, and listen carefully to all instructions and corrections.

  • Lead. The piano accompanist is accompanying you!!

  • You must set the tempos with a clear preparatory breath and cue.

  • Do Not follow the piano accompanist, except where they provide cues for your entrances.

  • Try to know the piano part, not just your own. Listen to recordings whenever possible.

  • Do Not hide behind the piano accompanist. You are the soloist. LEAD! Do Not expect the piano accompanist to “pull you through!”


  • While on stage, bow gracefully. Then with a graceful hand gesture, acknowledge the piano accompanist.

  • Off stage, thank the piano accompanist verbally.

  • Pay the pianist!

  • A thank you note delivered immediately following the performance is a kind and acceptable gesture.

Following these guidelines will help you during any rehearsal/performance situation, make you easy to work with, and improve your performance



Students will be given a specific time several weeks prior to the festival. The times are sent to the ensemble director from the audition coordinators and are not available before that time. Students should plan to arrive at the festival site approximately 30 minutes prior to their scheduled performance time. Students will need to check in at the registration desk where they will be given instructions and will be directed to the warm-up area. (The warm-up area is usually a cafeteria or gymnasium where everyone waiting to perform is preparing.) Approximately ten or fifteen minutes prior to your performance time, you will need to move to your performance room.

When you arrive at the room you must wait until the person ahead of you has completed their performance. This could take several minutes, but DO NOT play outside of the room. You can play a little once you get into the room. (The room is often just a classroom with the desks pushed aside.) There will usually be a chair and a stand, as well as a judge sitting at the other end of the room. The judge will invite you inside and will probably ask if you would like to play a few notes. Use this time to get comfortable and play whatever you would like to calm your nerves and get adjusted. Next you will be asked for scales or your prepared piece.  The whole process takes about ten minutes.

Ratings will usually be communicated with you while you are in the room and official certificates and comments can be picked up from the Festival Center.