WESTCHESTER COUNTY NYSSMA SOLO/ENSEMBLE Evaluation Festival
Friday-Saturday May 16 & 17, 2008

Pelham Middle School

Pelham Middle School 28 Franklin Place Pelham, NY 10803

There will be NO piano festival offered for Zone 11 in 2008. Those students who are interested may attend a piano festival in another zone. Look for another NYSSMA zone at www.nyssma.org.


info at www.wcsma.org

Sign up with Ms. Greene by February 29th. This deadline is firm. To sign up, in your own envelope, write for me

  1. your name
  2. instrument
  3. NYSSMA level (I,II, III, IV, V, or VI)
  4. the day you prefer to play: i.e. Friday, Sat. am, or Sat. pm,
  5. and include cash or a check written to Ms. Greene for your fee:
    $14 for levels 1-4, and $21 for levels 5-6.

 Required Reading

Please read this entire letter now, in January. I have been sending students to NYSSMA for almost 20 years. Every word on this page has been proven to be vitally important by previous students who learned these facts the hard way. Each year students are not permitted to play because they “did not know” the rules and regulations. Please help me assure that you and your child will have a positive and rewarding experience by reading this entire letter as soon as you receive it. I know this warning sounds harsh, but, you'll be glad you prepared well in advance. There will be enough nerves on solo day.

Advice for Performers

•  You should have two originals of your solo: You may not enter a room with a photo copy of any kind, evven if it's for yourself. Buy the originals from Sam Ash now .You are responsible for obtaining your own originals. If you plan to borrow a Suzuki book from me, ask me for it in March. Do not assume I'm providing copies or books.

•  You MUST arrive at least an hour before your appointment . Parking takes upwards of 15 minutes. Registration will take 20. Finding your room can take 10 minutes. Tuning and warming up should take 15 or more. Please realize that this is not like shopping at the mall. Schools are not laid out well for these festivals, and all teachers who work that day (including yours truly) do so for free. Your fee covers only the cost of the judge and overhead expenses. There will be teachers there to help you, but no one has guaranteed you instant service. You must arrive an hour early.

You will spend 8 minutes with the judge. Mom and Dad may listen to your scales and solo, but will have to leave for the sightreading. Only piano soloists and singers are given pianos in their rooms. You will play unaccompanied.

 

NYSSMA Solo Information Sheets

With your audition time, two weeks before, I will give you an information sheet. This is the information you will need for your evaluation sheet. Fill out this sheet and bring it with you to your audition. You will copy the information onto your evaluation sheet. This makes registration faster and easier. On this sheet, I will write the page number of the NYSSMA Manual where your solo is listed. This is not the page number in your Suzuki book, but the page number in the NYSSMA Manual at school . Additionally, NYSSMA Solo levels do not correspond to Suzuki book numbers: Level II could be in book 1, 2, or 3. Please note that on the evaluation sheet, you are asked for your teacher's name. This is only to make sure that your sheet is returned to me, and then to you. YOU ALL WILL WRITE “MRS. GREENE” as your teacher, instead of your private teacher . Your private teacher cannot register you, and therefore, his/her name will only confuse the teachers who are trying to sort out 3000 sheets and return them to the public school teachers who registered you. Additionally, please list your school as Eastchester Middle School , 580 White Plains Road , even if you attend Greenvale or Anne Hutch. I prefer to have all my sheets sent together to the same school. I will deliver them to you two weeks after you play.

 

The “Suzuki Student” question at the top of the sheet arises each year, and it confuses everyone. It's not about the book you use, it's about your age. This is only for third graders and younger who are unable to read notes, and are allowed to skip the sight reading. If you are a 4 th grader or older, DO NOT check this box . Even if you play from Suzuki Books, you are too old for this exemption, and you will be required to sight read. If you are in fourth grade or higher, NYSSMA does not label you “A Suzuki Student” at the audition.

Scales:

Levels 1-2 play 3 one octave scales. Levels 3-4 play 7 scales: 5 are one octave and two are two octave. Levels 5-6 play all 15 two octave scales. Scales are played from memory. No scale sheets are allowed. The chromatic scale, used at all-county, is not part of the NYSSMA evaluation. Pianists must look carefully at the Manual for details of your scales. They are very different.

Sightreading

All of my students are strong sight readers. We started reading notes in February of third grade. You are well prepared. Still, here are some tried and true pieces of advice:

  1. When you get the sightreading, tap out the rhythm on the music stand all the way through. Do this first. Pretend to be a drummer. No kidding. Rhythm is where the kids lose points. If you look at the sharps first, you'll make up a rhythm, and it will be wrong, and the correct notes you hit will not count. Rhythm first . Always.
  2. Look through to see what strings you're starting and ending on. Get a basic shape of the 8 measures.
  3. Ok, NOW look at the sharps or flats, and especially look for the change: They usually start with a low 2 nd finger and then change it to a high one, or the other way around. They may add a high 3 rd finger, or maybe a low 1 st . Look for the trap, and be ready for it.
  4. If you still have time, tap out the rhythm again.

Do not practice it really softly hoping the judge won't notice. Some judges consider that cowardly, and that can't help your score. Play it once, slowly , and DO NOT STOP! It's like jumping off a diving board: No going back. Whatever you do, don't ask to play it again, and DON'T make a funny face. Smile, say “Thank you!” and skip out the door. You're DONE!

The truth about sightreading: (Inside secrets): They count each measure you get correct as one/half of a point. If you make 5 mistakes in a measure, it's still just one/half point off. So, if you do flub up, forget it. That measure is GONESVILLE! Keep going and try to get the next measure correct. From my experience as an all-county judge, please believe me when I tell you that most kids get half the points for sightreading. So, if you flub up half of it, Congratulations! You're average!


Your Solo Piece

The biggest “drag” for a NYSSMA judge is to hear 40 very precise perfect exact boring dull lifeless solos in a row. Very few students actually play softly on the mf's and p's, or loudly on the F's. It all sounds the same. Make yourself the judge's favorite of the whole day by being interesting. Use bow special effects that your teacher has showed you, like “at the tip,” “at the frog,” “Accent,” and my fav, decrescendo (get softer.) Of course, follow the directions in the music, but, exaggerate them so the judge notices. You'll get extra credit (unofficially) on your sightreading if the judge likes you. Wake up the judge and be interesting! You can be too careful, sometimes. Music should tell a story and convey a mood. Don't play like a computer. All notes were not created equal! Show some personality with your bowing.

 

Scoring

Levels 1-4 rate you in seven areas: Tone, Intonation, Accuracy, Articulation, Technique, Scales, and Sightreading. The best possible score for each is four, making your best possible total 28.Also, please realize that as your level rises, the judges become tougher. If you came home with a level Two Outstanding last year, do not be disappointed if you rate an Excellent on your level Three this year. That is exactly how NYSSMA is supposed to work. When you raise your level, expect your score to drop. I am happiest when students rate between 23 and 26, because when a student rates higher, I feel it only indicates that the solo should have been more difficult. More progress would have been made from working on a higher level solo. I truly believe that trying for a 28, by playing a safe easy piece is shooting too low. 28 is not the goal: Becoming an advanced player is the goal.

Keep in mind that the real point of NYSSMA is to prepare, practice, and improve. If you are studying and practicing and making progress, you have already earned the rank of a competitor, and you should be proud of yourself. Even the best players have room for improvement. The study of anything worthwhile is never really complete. Your parents and I are proud of you because you worked hard, prepared well, and had the courage to play for a judge. After your solo, you will have a paper and a medal to prove your distinction as a musician. The numerical score should be secondary to the process of learning.

I'll see you there! Be brave, and practice!

For a link to further information , including piano information, please log onto www.wcsma.org

Last modified: Monday, August 27, 2012, 4:26 PM