NEW YORK STATE SCHOOL MUSIC ASSOCIATION
Each spring the New York School Music Association Evaluation Festivals provide a means of objective evaluation of musical performance. This plan allows a music teacher to select music of a degree of difficulty suitable for a soloist or group regardless of the school enrollment or any other arbitrary factor. Quality of performance involving tone, intonation, phrasing, rhythmic accuracy, etc. is emphasized. Students are motivated by a desire to improve their performance through constructive criticism rather than by competition with other students or a need to “win”.
Nassau County hosts 15-20 of these festivals throughout the season. Each local school district is assigned to an area in which their students perform. Students can perform solos, duets and small ensembles for certified adjudicators, trained in the NYSSMA model. With six levels of music, students are encouraged to perform appropriate literature for their individual ability and skill level. Due to the development of the young voice, the Hewlett-Woodmere Music Department does not encourage students to participate vocally until they reach the 6th grade.
Students must prepare a solo listed in the NYSSMA manual Edition XXIX, effective July 1, 2009 (located in each school building and the public library) along with scales, rudiments and sight read according to their level as part of their evaluation.
As part of this process students in the 10th and 11th grade can audition for the NYSSMA All-State performing groups. Students must prepare a level 6 piece of music and file an application for the All-State organization. Students auditioning at this level must have a piano accompanist.
From past experience we also caution students in preparing more than one solo for evaluation. For some students it can be a tremendous benefit, however for others it does not leave enough quality time to prepare multiple auditions properly.
Participating in NYSSMA can be a rewarding educational experience, which we hope improves the student’s level of competency on their instrument and overall musicianship. It, however, is not for everyone. The NYSSMA process is one that requires a great deal of individual time and effort on the part of the student and their parents. Students who decide to participate should be prepared to practice a minimum of 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Students who have been the most successful in the past have received private lesson instruction in addition to the school music program. In school group rotation lessons we unfortunately cannot devote adequate time to the individual NYSSMA preparation process. It can only serve as one piece of the puzzle. For more information on NYSSMA and the organization you can log onto their Website at http://www.nyssma.org