Noted: ISSMA Instrumental Contest

This past weekend was band ISSMA instrumental contest, so my daughter and I (and her flute) spent most of the day there. She played, and I played piano for her and two others. Observations:

How is it possible to come up with so many beat up, apparently 100-year-old pianos in a single location?

Tween/teen fashion is going through an awkward and/or just plain ugly phase. Apparently it’s the current style for girls to wear spaghetti-strap dresses, even when the temperatures hover in the single digits. I saw many of them, and it’s not a style a lot of people can pull off effectively (me included). Any back fat or arms wider than twigs ruin the look. The funny thing is, just as I was thinking this, my daughter leaned over and shared essentially the same observation.

There are a lot of “accompanists” at contest. I put the term in quotes, because while I am an accompanist, I hope to never become an “accompanist.” These are usually middle-age women, moderately overweight with permed hair, who inevitably show up wearing polyester pants and a tightly buttoned blazer sporting a large musical note pin. They can be recognized by the large binders of music they tote around (or sometimes pull in little carts on wheels, if they’re really all that). They may have typed-up lists of the kids they play for (one even showed me her list, complete with her notations of the ribbons received by each). This event is deadly serious to them.

Trombonists produce a lot of spit. I mean, are they just spitting directly into the mouthpiece? Because I don’t think they could create more water on the floor coming out that spit valve if they did. After watching 4 in a row perform, I was just waiting for someone to walk up and wipe out in the big puddle of liquid on the floor. When it was my turn to play piano, I made darn sure to approach the piano from the other side.

I was listening to flutists (flautists?) play, not feeling too impressed, when finally one played who really knocked my socks off. I wasn’t expecting a lot: she was one of the unfortunate girls of the spaghetti straps. But then. She played in tune, had beautiful tone, was rhythmical, performed a really hard piece – she was great! Later, I ran into her in the hall and told her so. I think it’s important to compliment talent and hard work when we find it:  I remember once during my high school performing days, the judge said, “Your teacher must be very good.” I told him I didn’t have a teacher, and he said, “Then you are very good!” The remark has stayed with me all these years.

ISSMA instrumental contest

Waiting in the hall …

ISSMA instrumental contest

Glad that’s done!

ISSMA instrumental contest


6 thoughts on “Noted: ISSMA Instrumental Contest

  1. So, it’s over for another year.

    I’m impressed to hear that you didn’t have a flute teacher. I didn’t know you had taught yourself to play (the flute)! I’m impressed!

  2. That was a great post. I smiled at the trombone comment, that’s what Ashley plays. Congrats to Caroline & job well done to you : )

  3. I could write a small book about Solo and Ensemble experiences, probably beginning in the 1970s. What a day it used to be for my family. We have pictures we took early in the morning with my participants dressed in their Sunday best. It was a gut wrenching long day. We usually always returned rejoicing. We made trips both to Columbus and Indianapolis. I remember once getting ready and adding a necklace to my look. I asked one daughter, “Does this necklace look right?” Her reply, “It looks like something an accompanist would wear!” I didn’t take that as a total compliment.

    I returned to Solo & Ensemble Contest last Saturday. It is now at a different Columbus High School, but many things look quite familiar. You can about spot the band directors, as they try to say just the right comments to the anxious parents and students. There are whole families that flock in. Their appearances cover the gamut. One boy I know came in what appeared to be a tux. Geez! There are tons of kids with a nerdy look. One boy sat near me with a woman who I’d think was his mother. Right before his BIG moment, they had a serious talk. “Do you REALLY want me to come in with you. . . I mean. . . Will I make you more nervous?” Soon it appeared me gave the knuckly rap to an older guy who looked like a grandpa. Grandma was there, too, on her walker.

    If you haven’t been to Solo and Ensemble Contest, you would never understand.

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