TMAA Choir Concert, Sight-Reading, and S&E FAQ
Important Note: This document does not supersede or take precedence over documentation presented by the UIL. You are responsible for knowing the rules and regulations governing the UIL Concert & Sight-Reading evaluation.
Solo & Ensemble
Q: A solo that I think is an excellent choice for the PML is not on the list. How do I go about asking that it be included?
A: The UIL PML Submission Process can be found at https://www.uiltexas.org/music/pml.
Q: Is a student allowed to perform a Class 3 solo their first time at competition even if it isn't their first year of study on that instrument?
A: Yes. A Class 3 solo “may be entered by any student who has not previously earned a Division I rating in Class 1 or 2 competition” (1108, e, 3).
Q: Can a student who does not earn a Superior rating on their Class 3 solo perform another Class 3 the following year? Or must they advance to Class 2 regardless?
A: A Class 3 solo “may be entered by any student who has not previously earned a Division I rating in Class 1 or 2 competition” (1108, e, 3).
Q: The PML is not always clear on editions and some of the editions differ. If I have an edition that is unabridged but not listed, may I use it?
A: From the UIL Performance Requirements webpage, “Substitution of Unlisted Editions for Selections in the PML - Any unabridged edition by a current copyright holder of a selection appearing in the Prescribed Music List may be substituted. UIL Music defines unabridged as containing the same musical content and degree of difficulty from the version appearing in the PML. The director of the performing organization or event shall be responsible for the compliance of any substitute edition. Directors are encouraged to seek approval from the UIL for any unabridged substitution in advance of the performance. Approval shall be determined by comparing the version on the PML with the substitution. If a substitution is performed and is determined to be abridged the performing organization or event shall be subject to penalty as stated in C&CR Section 1110(d)(3)(D) and Section 1108(h)(1)”. This ruling applies to solo and ensemble literature as well as large ensemble literature.
Q: Is the C & CR the only place I need to review in order to fully understand all of the Concert & Sight-Reading Evaluation procedures?
A: For a comprehensive view of all procedures, go to http://www.uiltexas.org/music. Important documents, including the Constitution & Contest Rules, Choir Performance Requirements, and the Prescribed Music List can be found there.
Q: One of my students gets sick after the concert; will we be disqualified if s/he doesn’t sight-read?
A: If a student is physically unable to participate in either concert or sight-reading, there should be no penalty for the performing group.
Q: Can I talk to the judges?
A: This is not specifically addressed in the Constitution & Contest Rules – it is advised that directors avoid conversing with the judges while performing, unless asking for clarification or professional acknowledgments (greeting or thanking the sight-reading judges while the choir is entering or exiting, for example). When not performing, it is considered unprofessional to discuss any performances or ratings with the judges.
Q: Who can select the judges? Is there a policy on who should, who shouldn’t, who can, or who can’t?
A: The UIL states that “the membership roster of the TMAA will be the recommended list of approved judges. The music Region Executive Committee will select three judges from this list” (1112, a), subject to the guidelines found here - https://www.uiltexas.org/policy/constitution/music/adjudication. This implies that the Region Executive Secretary and the Region Vocal Chair would ultimately select judges. The way in which this is determined is left to each Region to decide.
Q: Is there a Dress Code for the Concert & Sight-Reading Evaluation, for either students or conductors?
A: Appropriate dress is not specifically mentioned anywhere in the UIL Constitution & Contest Rules. However, the gravity of the event has historically suggested professional and appropriate concert dress for both conductors and students. There is no mention of dress in the judging rubric; conversations and suggestions regarding what best qualifies as “appropriate concert dress” would be best led by leadership of the TMEA and TCDA, as well as Principals or Fine Arts Directors of individual schools or school districts.
Q: Who is allowed to go into the “Director’s Lounge” or Contest Office?
A: This is not addressed in the Constitution & Contest Rules. The make-up of personnel allowed into a “Director’s Lounge” or Contest Office should be determined by the Region Executive Secretary, Region Vocal Chair, and Contest Chair prior to the beginning of the Concert & Sight-Reading Evaluation.
Q: What is the procedure for asking to change a choir from a Varsity status to a Non-varsity status?
A: 1102, I, (3). “At the option of the music director and local school administration and with the approval of the UIL State Director of Music, music organizations representing new music programs, and music organizations committed to the process of establishing a viable music program may enter as non-varsity in the conference to which they are assigned until such time that the organization earns a Division I rating in concert performance. Pending request from local school administration and with the approval of the UIL State Director of Music the requirement to return to varsity status may be waived until such time that local school administration requests varsity status.”
Q: What is the procedure for a 5A or 6A school to request that a varsity treble choir be entered in lieu of a varsity mixed?
A: 1102, I, (1). “5A/6A choir programs shall enter a varsity mixed choir. Exception: At the option of the choir director and local school administration, and with the approval of the UIL State Director of Music, new 5A/6A choir programs and 5A/6A choir programs committed to the process of establishing a viable choir program may enter a treble choir as the varsity group representing that school. Other choirs may enter as non-varsity provided that there is no duplication of personnel. This option shall remain in effect until the varsity treble choir earns a Division I rating in concert performance. Pending request from local school administration, and with the approval of the UIL State Director of Music, the requirement to return to entry of a varsity mixed choir may be waived until such time that local school administration requests varsity status for the mixed choir.”
Q: Some of the descriptors on the judge forms seem to not be representative of choral singing. How would I go about suggesting a change to the form?
A: This would best be done by the Vocal Division of TMAA submitting a new template to UIL, with a justification, requesting implementation. UIL would then likely submit the proposal through the MAC process, so all regions in the state could vote on the proposal.
Q: If I want to edit or add to a selection on the PML, am I allowed to, and how would I do that?
A: All parts in the published score, including any accompaniments, are performance requirements. Editing or adding parts to an existing piece on the PML may be done at the discretion of the director; however, is subject to being considered by the judges when assigning a rating.
Q: Is there a penalty for not using required instrumentation (i.e. No French horn) or subbing a different instrument not suggested (i.e. Flute playing part required to be clarinet)?
A: From the UIL Performance Requirements webpage, “Instrumental accompaniment shall be utilized as indicated in the published score.” 1110, d, 3, D, “An organization failing to comply with performance requirements as submitted shall be penalized in accordance with Sections 27 and 29.” These penalties range from a private reprimand to disqualification or suspension and are determined by the region executive or the state executive committee.
Q: If a selection is on the PML, but could function as a “choice” piece, assuming that the entire program is on the PML, do you have to adhere to PML guidelines about accompaniment, descants, solo, instrumentation, number of verses, etc.?
A: The Performance Requirements regarding text, accompaniment, descants, solos, etc., refer to the pieces chosen from the Prescribed Music List, and not to the pieces chosen “from any source.” However, it is important to note that programming decisions can factor into a judge’s evaluation wherever that may be noted in the judging rubric. Even in a “choice piece,” the markings in the published score, as given to the judges, are performance requirements.
Q: Is my choir allowed to do a warm-up in the performance space if desired? What are you allowed to sing on stage prior to starting your concert presentation? How do you indicate to the judges you are just exploring the space?
A: (1110, 7, b) “Choirs shall be limited to not more than 20 minutes, including performance, entering and clearing the stage.” Warm-ups are not prohibited, although they are part of a choir’s time limit. It is suggested that warm-ups be brief and occur before the announcer introduces the choir.
Q: If I'm taking a Varsity Mixed Choir to contest, can those singers participate with my Non-Varsity Treble Choir? Can any of my Non-Varsity Tenor/Bass Choir singers sing with my Sub-Non Varsity Tenor/Bass Choir?
A: Questions about varsity, non-varsity, and sub-non-varsity groups are answered at http://www.uiltexas.org/policy/constitution/music/overview, in Section 1102, (I).
Q: If my choir does a selection off of the Grade 6 PML, what are my remaining concert obligations?
A: For a comprehensive view of performance requirements, go to http://www.uiltexas.org/music/concert-sight-reading/choir-performance-requirements. Specifically to the question above, conference 6A schools will need to also sing a song from the Grade V list; conference 5A schools will need to also sing a song from the Grade IV or Grade V list. One of these two total selections must be a cappella.
Q: Since one of the selections for each choir at UIL must be "a cappella," can my choir do this selection that calls for a percussion ensemble with both pitched and unpitched instruments?
A: From the UIL Choir Performance Requirements webpage, “at least one compositions must be performed without pitched accompaniment (a cappella).” Using this operational definition, any piece with any pitched instrumental accompaniment would not be considered “a cappella.”
Q: Am I allowed to bring multiple ensembles of a given category to Concert & Sight-Reading Evaluation? For example, can I bring multiple Varsity Mixed Choirs? What is the maximum number of Varsity/Non-Varsity/Sub Non-Varsity Choirs that any one school can take?
A: Questions about varsity, non-varsity, and sub-non-varsity groups are answered at http://www.uiltexas.org/policy/constitution/music/overview, in Section 1102, (I). Multiple ensembles in a given category can perform; there is no maximum number of choirs that any one school can take.
Q: Where do I find the performance requirements?
Q: Do I have to have a foreign language for my concert?
A: No; no foreign language requirement is specified in the performance requirements.
Q: Do instruments count as accompanied?
A: From the UIL Choir Performance Requirements webpage, “at least one composition must be performed without pitched accompaniment (a cappella)”. By this definition, any pitched instrument, including pitched percussion, would count as accompanied.
Q: Do I have to use the instrumentation listed in the PML?
A: From the UIL Choir Performance Requirements webpage, “Instrumental accompaniment shall be utilized as indicated in the published score.”
Q: If the score says “optional solo” or “optional flute”, am I still required to use the solo or flute part?
A: If the published score notes the solo or flute part as “optional”, then it is not a requirement for performance.
Q: Can I use a small group if the score calls for a soloist?
A: You may, but such practices are subject to interpretation or criticism by the judges.
Q: The score is written for organ, may I use a keyboard?
A: From the UIL Choir Performance Requirements webpage, “Instrumental accompaniment shall be utilized as indicated in the published score.” However, “a synthesized accompaniment may be used…when the original instrumentation is not available, [but] the quality of the synthesizer should be commensurate with the intent of the composer, [and] it shall be the responsibility of the choral group director to provide all equipment for the production of synthesized sound.”
Q: My selection includes German and English, can I choose which to perform?
A: From the UIL Choir Performance Requirements webpage, “The text must be performed in the language of the title as listed in the PML unless otherwise notated in the published score.”
Q: Can the students hold music? Is there a penalty for doing so?
A: There is no penalty for using music; however, if the using of music creates musical deficiencies in the overall performance, judges may address those deficiencies.
Q: When should/can members of the audience applaud?
A: This is not addressed in the Constitution & Contest Rules. Decisions about whether to applaud after each piece, or only at the conclusion of the program, should be made prior to the beginning of the event, and communicated clearly to both directors and audience members.
Q: How long should I wait between pieces?
A: It’s considered polite to give the judges some time to complete comments before beginning the next piece. Is it, however, unnecessary to wait for every judge to finish writing. A good rule-of-thumb is to wait for one or two judges to turn from the completed piece to the next piece in the contest order.
Q: How long is too long of a performance on stage?
A: (1110, 7, b) “Choirs shall be limited to not more than 20 minutes, including performance, entering and clearing the stage.”
Q: Is walking on/off stage considered as part of my performance time?
A: Yes. (1110, 7, b) “Choirs shall be limited to not more than 20 minutes, including performance, entering and clearing the stage.
Q: Can a choir perform two or three songs by the same composer?
Q: How, exactly, can the tonic triad be reproduced after the 1st and 2nd instructional periods?
A: Section 1111, f, (4) “At the completion of the instruction period the choir will be given the tonic chord, in broken chord style.” The specific details of what “broken choir style” comprises are not addressed, and are left to the discretion of the director; the notes in the chord, however, must clearly be a part of the tonic triad (Do, Mi, Sol).
Q: When, exactly, can the students reproduce the tonic triad? Can a piano be used simultaneously or just before the students do this? If so, in what way? Can tonic be played twice when beginning the tonic chord to establish the first pitch that will be sung in the chord? Can the tonic chord be played to do this?
A: Section 1111, f, (4), “At the completion of the instruction period the choir will be given the tonic chord, in broken chord style. At that time (emphasis added), the students may reproduce the tonic chord, utilizing their preferred method of sight-reading…the accompanist will then give the starting pitches, which each section may sing, again utilizing their preferred method. The director may sing the starting pitch with each section.”
“At that time” has two reasonable meanings:
- After the playing of the tonic chord, in broken chord style, the choir may (at that time) reproduce the tonic chord.
- (At the time of the playing of the tonic chord, in broken chord style), the students may reproduce the tonic chord. This strategy will require a method to find the tonic pitch, obviously, and so the playing of the first pitch of the chord would be either repeated or elongated, both of which the TMAA finds to be acceptable.
Q: Can the director sing the tonic triad with the students? Can the director sing the starting pitches with the students?
A: Section 1111, f, (4), “The students may reproduce the tonic chord, utilizing their preferred method of sight-reading. The accompanist will then give the starting pitches, which each section may sing, again utilizing their preferred method. The director may sing the starting pitch with each section.” The Constitution & Contest Rules makes specific mention of the allowance for directors to sing the starting pitch with each section, and makes no mention of an allowance to sing the tonic triad with each section. It is therefore recommended that directors NOT sing the tonic triad, while being allowed to sing starting pitches with the choir, if the director chooses.
Q: Is the director or a student allowed to mark the music in any way? What about tabs or Post-It notes?
A: Tabs or post-it-notes are permitted, as they are not direct markings on the music.
Q: Just how much signing and holding up fingers to count long notes, etc., constitutes obvious contribution by the director?
A: Section 1111, f, (7) “a choir whose director makes an obvious contribution to the performance by either singing with or speaking to the students or making other audible contributions while they are performing shall be disqualified.” Non-audible assistance is not addressed, and this therefore not considered an “obvious contribution by the director.”
Q: Will a choir be penalized if they do not audiate?
Q: Can the tonic triad be played during either or both of the study times? How may it be played?
A: Section 1111, f, (2) “At any time during the instruction period the tonic chord may be played once, in broken chord style, and may not be reproduced by the students.” Section 1111, f, (5) Regarding the second instructional period, “The procedures described in 1111, f, (2) will apply.”
Q: Can starting pitches be played during study times after the tonic triad is played? Can starting pitches be played in lieu of the tonic triad?
A: Section 1111, f, (2) “At any time during the instruction period the tonic chord may be played once, in broken chord style, and may not be reproduced by the students.” The tonic chord is specifically allowed, and starting pitches are not mentioned; when starting pitches are allowed, they are mentioned in the Constitution & Contest Rules (1111, f, (4), for example). Therefore, starting pitches cannot be played during study times.
Q: If my students chant, and they chant in a monotone way that suggests a pitch, is that a violation of the rules?
A: If my students chant, and in an effort to NOT chant on a monotone pitch, their pitch moves up and down in a way that suggests melodic contour, is that a violation of the rules? 1111, f, (2) “Students may chant rhythms and/or text and tap or clap the rhythms. But they may not reproduce the music tonally.” If, in the opinion of the judges, chanting is used in an effort to reproduce the music tonally, then this would be reported to the contest chair, who would make a decision regarding disqualification.
Q: Is non-musical, non-instructional verbal comment permitted after time is called and/or after pitches have been sung?
A: Is non-verbal, non-audible instruction permitted after time is called and/or after pitches have been sing? 1111, (f), 4 “After the choir has sung its starting pitches, no further warm-up or musical instruction of any kind is permitted by the director, including the use of verbal counting to initiate the reading.” Verbal comments that clearly are not musical or instructional would therefore be allowed. Is it critical to note, however, that what would be defined as “non-musical” or “non-instructional” is a decision determined by the judging panel and contest chair, not the director. It is recommended that directors not utilize verbal commentary of any kind after the instructional period has ended.
Any kind of musical instruction, even if non-verbal and non-audible, is not permitted, after the instructional period has ended.
The rules state that “both readings will be judged”. Is one weighted more heavily than the other? Section 1111, a, (4) “Each organization shall be evaluated in accordance with the TMAA adjudication rubric”. 1111, f, (6). “Both readings will be judged”. The manner in which the “weighting” of each performance is left to the judge’s discretion.
Q: Am I allowed to sing the SR piece in a different key?
A: Yes; you may sight-read in the published key or in any other key (Section 1111, f, (4).
Q: What is the difference between Sub Non-Varsity and Non-Varsity choirs?
A: Section 1111, a, (6) “All music for sub non-varsity will be the same or meet the same criteria as the selection of corresponding organizations two conferences lower than their varsity organization.” The difficulty level of the sight-reading music for Non-Varsity and Sub Non-Varsity choirs is therefore the same. From Section 1111, f (1) “The director of a choir will be given six minutes to study the score and instruct the organization. Exception: Sub Non-Varsity choirs may extend the study and instruction period by one minute.” This only addresses the six-minute study period. There is no extended time for the two-minute second instructional period.
Q: Am I allowed to wear & use a finger-clicking instrument, in lieu of snapping my fingers? Can I use a metronome? Can I use a watch?
A: Use of these instruments is not specifically addressed in the Constitution & Contest Rules. There is no rule that prohibits any of this.
Q: What do you do as a director if the judging panel fails to use the sight-reading script as laid out by TMAA?
A: http://www.uiltexas.org/music/concert-sight-reading/tmaa-sight-reading-procedure-for-choir. Report this to your contest chair and/or your Region Executive Secretary.
Q: If a choir is satisfied with their first sight-reading, are they required to do a second?
Q: Are TTB voicings available instead of TBB?
A: Information about the sight-reading selections can be found at http://www.uiltexas.org/music/concert-sight-reading/choir-sight-reading-criteria.
Q: What can cause a choir to be disqualified during sight-reading? Who is authorized to disqualify a choir in sight-reading?
A: Section 1111, f (7) “A choir whose director makes an obvious contribution to the performance by either singing with or speaking to the students or making other audible contributions while they are performing shall be disqualified. A judge’s decision of what is obvious and deliberate is final.” Section 1112, b (2) “[Judges] shall call to the attention of the contest chair/event chair and the Region Executive Secretary any irregularities of performance or procedure on the part of the participant(s).”