An Experience to Grow From


Regional Solo and Ensemble Festival gives students the opportunity to perform a piece, by themselves or with fellow musicians, and get feedback and ratings from judges with years of experience in music. Ratings follow a one to five scale, one rating being ‘outstanding’ and a five rating being ‘ineffective’.

Both my freshman and sophomore years, I participated in the festival. Last year was my first year back in band since the craziness of 2020. I didn’t expect to blow the judges out of the water, but I got a two rating; I was really proud of myself and the progress I had made in just a few months. 

This year has been my year of improvement; I spent months working on music to audition for districts. I even enrolled in applied music to have extra time in my academic day to perfect my piece and skills. 

The festival came, and I performed early in the morning. I was feeling really confident in my performance and hoping that I got a one rating. I waited anxiously for my rating to be posted, and when it was, I was shocked to say the least. When I saw the two next to my name, my mind started racing. Not only did I get a two, I got the lowest possible score for a two rating. 

The rest of my day was spent overthinking and perseverating over what I did wrong: how I could have practiced more, how the judge must have missed something, and if there was something I could have done to get that one rating. At the end of the day, I realized there’s nothing I could have done and that numbers don’t mean everything.

This experience has taught me that my self worth is not based on the number on the rating sheet. Just because the number wasn’t what I hoped for, it does not mean I didn’t improve as a player. I know my worth; I know that I am exponentially better than I was last year, and at the end of the day, that’s my goal. My goal was to do better than last year, and I thought that meant that I had to get a one rating. I now realize that is 100% not the case.

I am so grateful for my judge and the time she dedicated to my performance. While I may not have been happy that day, reading her criticisms and knowing that she took time out of her day to encourage high school musicians to improve and become better players is incredible. I now know what to do next year to sell performance to the judge next year and how to be the most successful that I can be. So for that, I thank her, and I will take this experience and grow from it.