Preparing for Solo Contest with SmartMusic

In last week’s blog post, I offered various methods on how to find solo literature in SmartMusic. This week I would like to highlight a teacher I met this past summer who has put SmartMusic to excellent use in his program, including getting wonderful results using solo repertoire at contest time.

The following article appeared in a SmartMusic Newsletter and I think it offers a great snapshot of Benny’s approach to solo preparation.

“I want to tell you how I achieved a 300% Improvement in Superior Ratings at UIL Solo and Ensemble Contest. I am Benny Davis, Director of Bands at Rockwall Heath High School and this is how I did it.

“One of my goals was to have every student perform a solo at contest, and with SmartMusic Gradebook this has become a reality. SmartMusic Gradebook has enabled me to have students practice their solos at home, send me recordings of their progress via an Gradebook assignment, and allow me to listen to everyone and critique their performance.

“Every two weeks I would assign one-third of the solo and have them submit a recording to me through Gradebook. Students felt more prepared and comfortable about performing because SmartMusic gave them the extra help during the preparation period prior to contest. We were also able to have every student perform a solo with the assurance that we could hear each and every student as they prepared. It increased our accountability factor exponentially.

“I would never have had the time to hear everyone at school; scheduling the lesson and having an accompanist available just wasn’t practical. Having the students submitting recordings of their solos – with accompaniment – enabled me to manage the process and help those students that really needed the help. Many were able to perform very well on their own as they listened to their own recordings and were able to critique their own performance.

“The good news is that we had three times the number of superior rating at the UIL contest. It was truly a breakthrough in efficiency.

“If I was asked to give advice to those not familiar with SmartMusic, I would say whether you have a large or small program; SmartMusic is by far the most significant instructional tool to be presented to educators since the Strobe Tuner. To the directors who are unsure about jumping on board with SmartMusic and Gradebook, I can think of ten reasons to use SmartMusic and Impact for any single reason not to.”

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