Brownlee Creates Virtual Music Contest for high school Performers

One of the many cancelations due to the COVID-19 outbreak was the Kansas State High School Activities Association State Solo and Ensemble music contest. 

This music contest features performances from schools across the entire state. 

Each classification (1A-6A) has a host location where they meet to have the one day contest. The contest is judged by music professionals who are brought in to score and critique each performance. 

Unfortunately for students, there was going to be no such contest this year due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Until Sterling College band director Larry Brownlee decided to take matters into his own hands.

“With music festivals canceled, I wanted to provide an opportunity for students to still perform their solos that they have been working on,” Brownlee said. An online festival seemed like an option that would work. I have been communicating with Kansas directors to assess interest and so far I’ve 60 schools have expressed an interest in having their students participate. Students will make a video recording of them performing their solo. They will upload that video to me and I will share it with an adjudicator. Solos will be rated using the KSHSAA rubric. Every student who participated in the festival will receive a certificate. Students who receive a superior rating will get a medal mailed to them.”

Luke Harding, a prospective Sterling College student, and Sterling High School senior thinks the music contest is a great idea.

“I personally think that what Mr. Brownlee is doing is great,” Harding said. It provides a way for students to stay musically active during this time. Most kids would put their instrument to the side for the next few months, or choose to “rest” their vocal cords, but this gives them a chance to stay active with music. It will benefit us by giving us the chance to keep practicing and keeping our musical abilities up while doing it for a reason since we get to perform. 

If you’d like to contribute financially to the festival to help with expenses, you can go to and search “free online music festival.” All proceeds will go directly towards the festival.

Amidst all of the negative things going on in the world right now, this is something that overrules that. 

Brownlee showed us that if it means enough to you, it can still be done. It just takes some creativity and effort. 

Larry Brownlee: 1, COVID-19: 0.

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