(WARREN, NJ) -- Arts Ed NJ, the statewide arts education policy and advocacy organization, has announced the inaugural New Jersey State Solo and Ensemble Festival (NJSEF). It is being launched for the 2020/2021 school year to recognize student achievement in music education across the state.
The NJSEF Festival has five primary goals: Improve students’ music performance; Increase students’ understanding of music literature and music concepts; Motivate students to continue their study of music; Establish standards of excellence in music performance; Provide opportunities for students to understand the relationship of music experiences to other life experiences.
Open to all public or private middle school and high school students, the Inaugural New Jersey State Solo & Ensemble Festival will be held virtually in 2021 with both regional and state festivals, to provide opportunities for scholastic music students to showcase their talents either individually or in an ensemble.
The Regional Festival will take place starting in February 2021. Students will submit their video performances online. Performances are adjudicated by highly skilled judges, with each student performance receiving a rating. Students with the highest festival ratings will be invited to participate in the State Festival in April, 2021. A second Regional Festival will also take place in April.
“With all of the cancelations of activities and events for our students across the state we believed we need to create some platform for our music educators to be able to showcase their students’ talents and musical growth in spite of the COVID19 Pandemic”, stated Bob Morrison, Director of Arts Ed NJ. “Providing this virtual festival during the current school year will provide something for our students to look forward to right now and set the stage for an annual solo and ensemble experience for future students.”
Through the Solo & Ensemble experience, students learn the discipline of rehearsal, are challenged to advance their musical skills, perform for an adjudicator, and receive feedback on their performance. Students that perform at the highest level during the Regional Festival will be invited to advance to the State Solo & Ensemble Festival. Students may also perform for “comments only” from the adjudicators without receiving a rating. Through practice, performance, and in receiving the constructive feedback offered by adjudicators, students will be encouraged to develop socially, emotionally, and artistically.
The Inaugural New Jersey State Solo and Ensemble Festival is being powered by Music for All – one of the nation’s leading music education organization. Music for All has provided the virtual platform and adjudication infrastructure to support the Festival. Additionally, the solo and ensemble repertoire list, comprised of more than 11,000 titles, has been made available through a cooperative arrangement with the Wisconsin School Music Association, which has more than 80 years of solo and ensemble festival experience.
The New Jersey State Solo and Ensemble Festival grew out of discussions between Arts Ed NJ and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and is modeled after best practices from around the nation. Arts Ed NJ is working to become the NFHS performing arts affiliate for the state of New Jersey and plans to work closely with NFHS on this and future endeavors for the benefit of New Jersey arts students
Dennis Argul, the highly regarded music educator and administrator with more than 35 years of experience, has been appointed as the Director of the New Jersey Solo and Ensemble Festival and will be coordinating with committees comprised of New Jersey music educators on the development of the Festival as the event evolves.
Arts Ed NJ and the NJSEF are committed to equity. In order to make participation widely available to all students, regardless of circumstances, there is no membership requirement (for schools or the music educator). Any students in grades 6-12 attending a public or private school, or is home schooled may participate. Additionally, through the Grunin Foundation’s generosity, educators will be able to request scholarships to cover the cost of participation for students with demonstrated need.
Arts Ed NJ is the unified voice for arts education in New Jersey. The mission of Arts Ed NJ is to create the proper conditions for arts learning to take place in New Jersey. Formerly the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership, Arts Ed NJ was founded in 2007 by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, New Jersey Department of Education and Music for All Foundation. Additional support has been provided by the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation, ArtPride New Jersey Foundation and an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Since 1975, Music for All has been a destination and set the standard for scholastic music ensemble performance and music education advocacy. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization, Music for All’s mission is to create, provide, and expand positively life-changing experiences through music for all. Music for All’s vision is to be a catalyst to ensure that every child in America has access and opportunity for active music making in his or her scholastic environment. Music for All’s advocacy efforts inspire and develop models and strategies for successful music programs, through programs like its Advocacy in Action Awards, the I-65 Corridor Project, and support of Indianapolis Public Schools and programs like United Sound and Be Part of the Music. Music for All’s programs and events include the Bands of America Grand National Championships and Regional Championships; Music for All Summer Symposium; Music for All National Festival; Affiliate Regional Music Festivals; and national student honor ensembles including the Bands of America Honor Band that will march for the fifth time in the Rose Parade® in 2022. The organization’s online learning and virtual performance opportunities offer additional support and resources to students and teachers.