So.... your school has volunteered to host a county solo festival, and you have no idea where to start.

You've come to the right place.

On this page you will find a LOT of information regarding every facet of hosting a festival. Read it through, download the pdfs that are included as links, and you'll be well on your way to a successful festival.

Here is a rough timeline of what will need to be done:


1. Fill out a building use form (TODAY, if you haven't already done so) for all of the rooms which will be used at the festival. Don't forget to include warmup areas for instrumentalists, a meeting room for the judges on Friday afternoon, and a place to eat if necessary. If at all possible, try to encourage your school NOT to host athletic (or other) events on these dates, as parking may become a problem.

2. Check with the Solo Festival Coordinator to find out how many rooms you will need. The Coordinator's job is to make the schedule. S/he can give you last year's room count right now, and will know the exact number of rooms you will need for THIS year's festival about the last week of November.

3. Also, find out approximately how many pianos you will need. Again, get a best guess early in the year... compare it to how many pianos you have available in your school, and then determine (with the county president) on how to get the remaining necessary pianos. This should be taken care of early in the school year if you think there will be a shortage of pianos. Again, the coordinator will know the exact number of pianos towards the end of November.


Make sure that you have an up-to-date map of your building. This may be used at the INFO DESK, and will also help you to visualize where to assign rooms. Try to keep Brass in the same hallway, woodwind in the same hallway (or two), Strings in the same area, and Percussion grouped together as well. Assign B1, B2, B3, etc. to your actual room numbers. Handwrite B1, B2, B3 onto your school map.

Also in November, (or earlier if you prefer), it's time to hire the caterer for the judges lunch (and/or) dinner. The county currently allocates $37 per adjudicator at the Jazz, Jr.High and Sr.High festivals. The elementary solo festival allocation is currently $28 per adjudicator, as their is no dinner. Check with the solo festival chairperson to find the total number of judges. Add the Zone rep and yourself to this figure. This amount not only has to feed your judges, but can also be used for snacks, coffee, tea, donuts/bagels etc. However, please DO NOT go over this allotment! Submit detailed reports and receipts for food and office materials etc. directly to the county treasurer after the festival.


Meet with your school custodian to go over a few things:

1) Rooms you'll be using (for sure), and 2) make arrangements to move pianos. You should know from your map which rooms will need pianos, and where these pianos will be coming from.

2) Send a nice em ail to your staff, letting them know that your school will be hosting a solo festival. Let them know the dates, and try to let them know which rooms will be used. If possible, let the teachers whose rooms will be needing a piano, that you will be moving the pianos into their room 5 days before the festival. This will allow them to be tuned (after being moved), and kept in place. If any teacher objects, find an alternate site NEAR their room, where the piano can be moved to, tuned, then moved a short distance to the final room.

3) Print out the necessary letters to recruit student/parent volunteers. Have them ready to go upon your return from the December Holiday break. If you are hosting an EARLY January festival, you may wish to begin this recruitment phase in December.

Here is a SAMPLE VOLUNTEER RECRUITMENT LETTER/PERMISSION SLIP. You can fill in the times for the "shifts", and the report times.

4) Decide HOW MANY volunteers you will need. It's nice to have a lot of helpers, but can be problematic to have too many! Make a blank template upon which you will insert names as they come in, and turn away people when those jobs (or "shifts") become full. Here is a SAMPLE VOLUNTEER SCHEDULE


Crunch time.

As the kids bring in their permission slip, pencil them into a job. As soon as possible, give them an "assignment letter" letting them know which job they've been assigned to. In Brighton, we let kids choose which job they want, and assign them on a first come- first served basis. It works great.

Click here to download a collection of every linked .pdf on this page in one click!

Here are the job assignment letters that we use:






Print out rooms signs for your festival. Here is a PDF of all the room signs you'll need.

Make sure that you have all the signs that you'll need for the festival. Bill Baldwin in Brighton has a box of signs that can be borrowed for your festival. Included in the box are:

4 Brass Signs, 4 Woodwind Signs, 4 Percussion Signs, 4 String Signs. Several Warmup Room Signs. They are laminated, and you can lightly tape ARROWS onto the signs to point people in the right direction.

Here are a couple more signs that you might need:


Consider making up "QUIET PLEASE" in the hallway signs. You may also want signs to identify your MCSMA "Office".

Information Desk Signs, Registration Signs, Welcome signs for the doors, Teachers lounge, etc.

Decide early on whether you will do a "centralized registration area", or will have "Room Monitors" at every judges room. Room monitors are preferable, but it's getting difficult sometimes to recruit the necessary numbers of kids. Centralized registration will cut the number of kids you need in half! (or more).
Having a student outside each room as a "Room Monitor" is the best... Judges will really appreciate this touch if you can do it!
Regardless of whether you do centralized registration or have individual room monitors, I would highly recommend that you train them PRIOR to the festival. When the weekend of the festival happens, you will be burdened with other things, and if you have their training done... the festival will start smoother. In Brighton, we meet with the kids during ONE lunch period to train them how to fill out the solo sheets. They need to know:

1) How to fill out the solo festival sheet.

2) How to look up pieces in the manual. (including how to look up pieces listed within collections, etc.)

3) Being respectful and helpful towards participants.

4) Not showing sheets (under any circumstance) to anyone.

5) How to deal with labels which are incorrect

6) Checking for correct movements and scales.

The MCSMA "Office"
Recruit parents and other colleagues in your district to work in the "mcsma office". Parents and staff members will be invaluable in the office area, helping to verify solos and levels in the NYSSMA Manual. Consider recruiting several weeks in advance, and once again, send reminders.

Splitting the weekend into three or four “shifts” works pretty well. If everyone works just one shift, you may have enough to really keep the office moving quickly.

Without enough adults in this area, the solos can’t get through fast enough, and teachers end up waiting a long time to get results.

Parents and teachers working side by side is great for everyone involved! Recruit some parents ! They’ll enjoy it and your festival will be better for it.

It’s up to US to keep that ZONE REP busy!

We don’t want ‘em sitting around “waiting” for sheets to be verified... we want those sheets to “pile up” in front of him !

After all, (s)he’s got the easy job! A little math, and they sign their name... (kidding, Mike... kidding...)

Oh, and don't forget to have 3-4 up-to-date NYSSMA Manuals in the office!

Parents and students make a great combo at INFO DESKS at the main entrance to your building. Extra students can be used as GUIDES to actually take visitors to the warm-up area, or their performance room. Also, have maps of the school available here !

Ask your solo festival coordinator to print out an “INFO PACKET” with all of your schedule information in ALPHABETICAL (last name) order.

Even if a performer doesn’t know where to go, you will !

In addition, you will want to have several RUNNERS. These are the students who run the sheets from the solo festival room to the “office”. One runner per area (brass, ww, etc) is usually sufficient, depending upon the number of rooms.

Runners do NOT need to report early, as sheets won't start coming in until after that "shift" has started.

Once again, it is very important that these students not show scoresheets to anyone, and also treat participating students with respect and be helpful whenever possible.

Post your “WORKERS LIST” the week prior to the festival, and send personal reminders to each student or parent ! We used a computerized data base to help organize our workers on paper. The database made “mail-merge” reminders for each student at the push of a button....


- - Setting Up - -

Have all of your job assignment sheets printed out, and room #'s entered on them, etc. Hang them on a blackboard (where your setup crew is meeting after school) and tell the kids to work thru all the jobs, from left to right. The jobs are

1) Hanging signs for the judges meeting.

2) Room setup

3) Setup Registration Area

3) Set up warmup room(s).

4) Set up mailboxes/desks around building

5) Hang Signs

6) Setup MCSMA Office.

7) Setup Percussion Room

8) Setup INFO Desk.

Use empty paper boxes, and label them with their "destination". Kids can move this stuff quicker than you can... Have a faculty member supervise setup of the Registration areas, and percussion room.

Assign someone the task of walking through the building, and checking on two things that are critical:

1) Pianos are in their correct rooms, and

2) Signs are pointing in the appropriate direction. (Sometimes kids hang signs in the most "inventive" ways...)

Items that the solo festival Coordinator should be bringing to your festival.
and FINALLY... just when you thought you were done...

Don't forget to thank all the people that helped make your festival a success. Custodians, colleagues in your department, teachers in the building whose classroom was used, and parents who helped... the list can be quite long. A Brighton colleague started a tradition years ago, where we leave a note and chocolates on the teachers desk (in a room we used). It's a great way to say thank you, and it's a nice way for a teacher to come into their classroom to start on Monday morning!

And as mentioned above, submit detailed reports and receipts for food and office materials etc. directly to the county treasurer following the festival.














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