Solo and Ensemble

Solo and Ensemble is an opportunity for students to perform in front of a professional judge and receive feedback. A student is given a first, second, or third based on the quality of their performance but they do not compete against other students.  The competition is hosted at an area school or at ICC every year.  The competition will run from the morning to the afternoon and involves thousands of area student musicians. For more information visit the IHSA homepage.


1. Scales

All wind and mallet instrument soloists (ensembles do not play scales) will be required to play two of the following scales: Concert C, F, B Flat, E Flat, A Flat, D Flat, G Major, and a chromatic. The judge will select the scales to be played. The scales listed, including the chromatic scale, will be called for in concert pitch meaning that each player who plays a transposing instrument will have to transpose the given scale. The scales should be played at a tempo no less than ♩ = 120. All scales for wind instruments shall be played two octaves where applicable but one octave where range restricts. Scales and the chromatic will be played from memory.  Select your instrument to download the scale sheet:

2. Solo Piece

Each student or ensemble will prepare a piece which conforms to the following rules:

  1. The playing time for the prepared selection of a soloist shall not exceed six minutes (including time needed for on-stage tuning.) Solo/Ensemble events shall consist of a minimum of 64 published measures or a performance time of at least 90 seconds.
  2. Soloists and ensembles need not be accompanied unless the accompaniment is required by the score. If a performance is accompanied, accompaniment must be by piano, harp or any other instrument designated for accompaniment in the score.
  3. Each soloist shall supply the judge with one score of his/her selection, with the measures numbered. Failure to supply such a score shall result in the contestant’s rating being automatically lowered by one step. Photocopied music may be provided to judges only in an emergency.

Suggested Pieces

The IHSA maintains a list of selected pieces from the standard repertoire.  Original sheet music can be purchased at Kidder Music.  Click on your instrument to download the list:


Judge sheets

The judges will use the following page to judge each solo or ensemble.  Students should familiarize themselves with the areas that they will be judged on to prepare more fully.  Click below to view the judge sheet.


The IHSA establishes rules for solo and ensemble contest.  Students should skim through the rules to ensure that they are not disqualified.  Click below to view the rules sheet.