The Mission of the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) is to advocate for and improve music education across New York State by promoting and producing appropriate activities and programs for its membership and students in member school music programs. NYSSMA divides New York State into 15 zones. Zone 6 is comprised of Clinton, Franklin and Essex Counties. This year, the Zone 6 All State Concert performance was held on Saturday November 23rd in the Ausable Valley High School, Auditorium which, if it’s not already, should be a model for designers of schools and auditoriums across the country. The K&J today, explores the relationship between students, their music teachers, the conductors and the music they play. The program brings together some of the best musical talents in the North Country and puts them together on stage for an exhilarating performance on a scale well above the norm for high school music.
Read about the NYSSMA process, and sit back and enjoy the conversation in an extended 50 minute presentation of the K&J show on WNBZ..
Each year in late August approximately 900 students are notified that they are selected to participate in the NYSSMA Conference All-State music groups. How does NYSSMA select these students? This seems like a simple question however the answer is complex. This article outlines the “process” used by our organization in selecting students for participation in the NYSSMA All-State performance groups.
The All-State experience begins with a music educator, his or her student and an accompanist spending countless hours preparing a NYSSMA Level VI solo which must be selected from repertoire lists in the current manual. Last spring, over 6,500 sophomores and juniors from across the state of New York prepared for All-State evaluations in the hope of being selected. New York State is divided into 15 regional zones by NYSSMA. These zones represent geographic areas within the state and also take into account the student populations within these zones. Last year, 43 All-State audition sites were scheduled in schools throughout the state. The All-State selection “process” begins with the solo being evaluated by a NYSSMA Certified All-State adjudicator at one of these designated sites. All-State adjudicators are responsible for evaluating every All-State solo of the same instrument or voice part. At the conclusion of the festival, the All-State adjudicators create a rank ordered proficiency list of all students being recommended. Every student who earns a score of 98-100 must be recommended. The “process” continues with the adjudicator ranking every recommended student by score first, with the 100′s ahead of the 99′s etc. If there are multiple students with the same qualifying score, the adjudicator must list those students in a proficiency order based on his or her evaluation of all performances. This year over 2400 students received scores of 98 or higher and were recommended for All-State consideration. At the end of the festival the All-State adjudicator gives their completed paperwork to the NYSSMA Zone Representative who then matches the adjudication sheet with the student’s completed application form and forwards them, along with the proficiency sheet to the appropriate All-State Chairperson.
Late in June, the “process” continues when selection committees are convened. The committees are made up of NYSSMA members from virtually every zone in the state. These committee members are charged with the monumental task of sorting through the proficiency lists from every festival and compiling a statewide master proficiency list for each instrument and voice part. Numerical scores and ranking on the local proficiency sheet are of primary importance in developing the master proficiency lists. After all recommended candidates are sorted numerically, a number of other factors are used in determining the final placement of students on the master proficiency list. The All-State Selection Committee reviews (in no specific priority): member school music teacher recommendations, adjudicator recommendations, the candidate’s previous NYSSMA Solo ratings, grade in school, zone representation, participation in the previous year’s All-State, and participation in other performing organizations. In the process of developing the master proficiency list, no qualified candidate on a local proficiency list may be passed over for another student on that list. In addition, committee members are instructed that all music literature from the NYSSMA Manual Level VI repertoire lists must be given equal consideration in the candidate selection process.
Occasionally, candidates are disqualified for All-State consideration. Disqualifications may occur when a music teacher does not recommend the student, application forms are incomplete or missing, or the candidate has violated any of the NYSSMA Rules and Regulations concerning the audition procedures including the requirement that all applicants must be a participating member of his or her corresponding school music organization at the time of the audition and at the time of the applicant’s membership in the Conference All-State organization.
After the master proficiency list has been established for each instrument and voice part, the “process” continues with each successful candidate assigned to positions in one of the eight All-State performing ensembles. Care is taken not to place a student in the same ensemble for two consecutive years. In cases where a candidate is selected for more than one ensemble, acceptance letters are sent for each group and the choice of ensemble is given to the student. After all selected students have been placed within the eight performing ensembles, an appropriately sized list of alternates is selected from the master proficiency list for each instrument and voice part. There are often more candidates with scores of 100 than can be accommodated by the limited size of the All-State groups, however every student receiving a score of 100 is guaranteed alternate status.
In late August, all selected students and alternates are notified by mail and asked to return acceptance forms. Music and instructions from the All-State Chairs and conductors are mailed to the successful candidates on October 15. Students are expected to prepare their All-State music with as much care and attention to detail as was given in preparation for their audition the previous spring.
A successful All-State experience depends on a number of factors: talented and well prepared soloists; careful attention and utilization of the NYSSMA Manual; tireless efforts of the All-State Chairs and Assistant Chairs; an exceptionally experienced, dedicated and responsible team of NYSSMA Chaperones; the finest conductors available; music that is of the highest quality; and almost 900 All-State Musicians who are thoroughly prepared to have an experience of a lifetime!