Notes on Hosting a S&E Contest

Notes on Hosting a Solo and Ensemble Event

  • reserve performance site and rooms

                        Large non-performance rooms needed are: warm up area, holding area for participants to hang out before/after their performance. Typically, performance rooms needed are: one for flutes only, one or two for reeds, one for high brass, one for low brass, one for woodwind ensembles, one for brass ensembles, one for percussion events, one for piano, one for strings and possibly one for ensembles (that don’t require a piano). Of course, the number of rooms and type of events scheduled in that particular room is dependent upon the number of entries.


  • contract judges (Pay Scale is on the last page of the Handbook)

                        The contract can be a simple exchange of emails with the specifics defined (date of contest, hourly rate to be paid, approximate start/end time, directions to the site and maybe an explanation of what range of students the judge might expect to hear). Include a sentence placing the responsibility to hire a substitute judge on the judge.  Example: “In the case of an emergency, where you cannot be present to judge, it is your responsibility to find an acceptable substitute. Contact me as soon as there is any possibility that you are unable to attend. My cell phone number is xxx-xxx-xxxx.”


  • schedule performance times

                        For region contests that include younger students and high school students, it is fine to schedule the rooms in 7 minute increments. It’s best to schedule a few buffer slots during the day to allow for the room running behind a little. Notify the judges of how much time is allotted to each event, and explain that they should try not to run over the 7 minutes.


  • arrange for tuned pianos, SmartMusic computers and CD players for accompaniment

                        Ask the participating directors about whether they are expecting to use their own computers/laptops for SmartMusic or if they are relying on the site host. The host should be sure to have the latest version and adequate speakers for the computers.


  • provide refreshments and amenities for judges

                        Coffee, water, sodas, etc. Lunch is usually provided by the host. A simple way to do this is to have a menu (Schlotsky’s, Jason’s Deli, etc.) to give to the judges at the beginning of the day. Have them write their order on their menu, and then order it in time to have it by lunchtime. Judges may be given a quiet place to eat if their room is not running behind (incentive!).

Typical timeline

6-12 months prior to event – reserve rooms on campus that will be used for the contest


3-6 months prior (start of the school year) – send an email to all possible participating schools informing them of the date


2-4 months prior – hire judges; remind directors of the deadline for entries; organize volunteers from your school to help

run the contest


1 month prior – remind directors of the coming deadline


After deadline – schedule the rooms and then hire additional judges if needed; schedule workers for all rooms (one monitor for each room, several people to run the tabulation room, several for concession stand, one to handle judges’ lunches, and one to serve as a “runner” between the rooms to gather the adjudication sheets)


Days before the contest- make last minute contact with the judges; send out the schedule and last minute items to the schools and directors; make extra copies of the adjudication sheets; get pencils, concession stand items, etc.


Day of contest – meet with judges 30 minutes before the start of the contest; put out fires throughout the day! And keep smiling!


 After the contest – count medals to see how many were used; submit a list of the state solo/ensemble qualifiers and send it to all the directors to be sure it’s correct. Turn in any receipts to the Executive Director for reimbursement (judges lunches and any mailing costs…usually no mailing costs if email is used as the communication).