The silence was deafening in the wake of Laura Tungseth's solo. The judge slowly lowered his eyes to his score card and raised his pen. Following a few seconds of notes, the judge gushed with admiration for Laura's piece. She earned a perfect score, an elusive award at a vocal contest.
The Vocal Solo and Ensemble Contest is highlight for students, who prepare and perfect a musical piece to perform for a respected judge, receiving feedback and a score. If the piece is particularly moving, the judge will ask the group to perform a second time, stopping the group at various places in the piece to give instruction and encouragement.
This year the contest was held at MSUM. All Chamber Choir members were required to participate in the event. Hillcrest was impressive throughout the day, earning six superior ratings and two excellent marks. Laura Tungseth's perfect score was touted as a prime achievement for the group.
The bus ride home was buzzing as students recalled the Jazz choir's piece. They sang Stand By Me, and the judge was so impressed that he asked the group to sing it again. As the group closed the first stanza of the song the judge led Hillcrest's singers in a march on stage as he danced and tapped his feet to the syncopation of the bass line.
The accolades of a superior, or even an excellent rating, encourages students. Many times the lone concert or occasional church solo provides little feedback. Music contests propels students to work harder and use the judges suggestions to hone pieces. The day is also a fun time for students to connect with each other around music and recognize personal achievements. It provides students the opportunity to look at critique in a positive light, inspiring them to look forward to the next contest.