Streetsboro -- A group of Streetsboro Middle School band members had the chance to flex their creative muscles in the Greater Cleveland Solo and Ensemble Contest Feb. 23.
The event, which took place at Roxboro Middle School in Cleveland Heights, included 250 performances by middle school students from Orange, Beachwood, Warrensville Heights, three middle schools from the Cleveland Municipal Schools and Hathaway Brown School, according to Shane Ellsworth, Streetsboro Middle School instrumental music teacher.
"This is just another opportunity for them to perform in small groups or as soloists," she said.
During the contest, a panel of judges gives each performer or ensemble a rating between one and five. All the Streetsboro performers received ones (superior ratings) or twos (excellent ratings), according to Ellsworth.
In preparation, the students rehearsed a lot outside their regular band classes and rehearsals, she added.
"They practice during lunch and after school the ensembles go to each others' houses and practice," she said.
Eighth-grader Elizabeth Breen, who played both classical guitar and trumpet in the contest, said she likes receiving constructive criticism of her solo work.
"I think it's kind of nice to get a one-on-one score that shows how you're doing," she said. "I like to know what I can improve on."
Seventh-grader Brandon Sanders, a tenor saxophonist, said participants are free to circulate around the competition and listen to other performers.
"It was fun to listen to other people and see how they were," he said.
On the other hand, Brandon said some performances can attract a crowd, as his did.
"I had quite a few people in my room, which added to my nervousness," he said.
Ellsworth said working on solos and small ensemble pieces enables musicians to sharpen their focus on different aspects of music than they would in a large band.
"The concepts really aren't that different," said Ellsworth. "I think they have to focus more on … balancing their role and dynamics."
Listening also becomes easier and more critical, she added.
"When you play a solo in a small ensemble, everybody's part is exposed and there's no room for error," she said.
The rest of the Streetsboro Middle School band members are preparing for a Concert Band and Jazz Band concert May 2 at 7 p.m. at Streetsboro Middle School.
FB: The Gateway News/Bob Gaetjens