Prepping for Solos

Mary Karen Clardy

When the excitement of fall marching season is a distant memory, it’s the perfect time to prepare for next season’s opportunities. Many halftime shows feature solos, and flute is a popular choice because it brings both melody and adds technique to the show. Try these ideas to develop your “inner” performer.

Practice Outside

Take your daily routine outside when spring weather brings sunny skies and warm temperatures. Project your tone to an imaginary spot far away, remembering the difference in how you support the tone and express your musical ideas out in the open.


Test your musical personality by memorizing small phrases in order to build confidence as a solo player. Learn at least five different tunes by memory, changing dynamics, style, and mood each time you play. Remember that these elements of musical style bring your own personality to each performance.


Use your computer or phone to record every practice session for an accurate understanding of your playing. Set your goal to win the audition for a solo spot as you review the recording, watch the score, and mark corrections for reference. Exaggerate dynamics, tempo, and phrasing as you continue to record, noticing that small changes do not create enough difference in performance. For a strong impression on the field, remember that a wide dynamic range and clear contrasts are needed for an exciting performance.


Go online to find examples of solo spots in halftime shows, including high school, university, and drum corps performances, to check out the range of styles and musical selections. The best way to learn musical phrasing is through listening, so make a habit of listening to new examples every day.

Enjoy the opportunity to develop a solo style and prepare for next season. Maybe you’ll be the next featured soloist.

About author

Mary Karen Clardy

Mary Karen Clardy, professor of flute at the University of North Texas in Denton, appears as a soloist, chamber artist and teacher throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Asia and South America. A renowned author, she has published more than 10 books from European American Music, Leduc, Schott and Universal Edition. Her students are consistent prizewinners in international competitions and occupy prominent orchestral and faculty positions throughout the world. Visit