The Terrace Idol How To

Many talented singers showcase their skills at terrace idol each year... what does it take for you to be one of them?

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There’s a certain feeling you get when you’re on a stage. Whether it’s the raised platform, the dozens of faces staring back, or a combination of them both, performing is an art in and of itself. Ever since its inception 10 years ago, Terrace Idol has been a consistently popular event that gives students across the district a chance to go up on stage and perform using song, dance and instruments to the best of their ability.

Terrace Idol is an annual event held in February of each school year, put on by the senior class ASB of that respective year. It’s a competition open to students of any high school in the Edmonds School District (ESD), and is modeled in close fashion to popular singing contests such as “American Idol.”

Around twenty contestants are selected each year from those who audition. From there, the pack gets thinned down to ten in the semifinals, five finalists and, in the end, one final winner and one “People’s Champion” winner voted on by the audience.

What the judges look for

So how does someone win Terrace Idol? The judging is, of course, subjective, but there are many attributes it takes for someone to be a winner.

For one, it’s not simply about having the best voice.

“We’re looking for talent, we’re looking for presentation, we’re looking for pitch, we’re looking for energy; we’re looking for a performer,” Terrace Idol judge Susan Dolacky said.

Dolacky has been involved with music and dance for many decades, has a Master of Music degree, and taught at Shoreline Community College in the music department for almost 40 years. She has been a judge at Terrace Idol a few times in the past and was one of the three judges of Terrace Idol 2016.

The judges are of utmost importance, as they’re the ones who decide who advances in the competition and who doesn’t. Impressing them is the best bet for anyone wanting move onto the next round.

Judges score each participant according to certain aspects based on a judging rubric.

These aspects include interpretation (how well do they make the song their own), stage presence (including connection with audience, emotion, and confidence), vocal quality (voice control, tone and intonation), and the overall performance. To hit this wide range of criteria, one must practice.

“[Performing] is something you have to practice,” Dolacky said. “There has to be a certain energy and excitement and love to want to be up there rather than [in the crowd].”

Advice for obtaining these qualities isn’t always clear cut. Singing, dancing, and stage performance all contain high amounts of nuance, but there are certain points that can be practiced and perfected to put forth a higher quality performance.

“Common advice is to really know your music well, know your choreography well and with those build the word confidence,” Dolacky said. “When you go out there and perform you just sometimes, all of a sudden, your mind can go blank, but if you’ve been practicing enough it comes automatically.”

The process

To participate in Terrace Idol, one must be selected from the auditions. This year, any ESD student could audition by way of live auditions at MTHS or by sending in a short clip of them singing to those running Terrace Idol.

“When you audition, make sure you’re very confident, and go in there and look like you know what you’re doing; make sure that you pick a song that really makes you look good,” Terrace Idol finalist and senior Kyle Henderson said.

If one makes it into Terrace Idol, that’s where the hair raising stage performances happen. How well someone performs and how much the judges like that person’s performance are the factors which determine if they will make it to the next round.

“If you don’t make it, don’t let that get to you… it’s definitely a great experience and I love it so much. I encourage everyone to do it and just stay positive through it because it’s a fun experience and being on stage is just so fun.” Terrace Idol winner and junior Maddy Caiola said.

Caiola speaks from experience, as she participated in Terrace Idol three times before she won the competition.

While the judges ultimately choose the winner of Terrace Idol, the People’s Champion award is won by audience pick. It generally takes popular support and good fan base to win this one, which is well characterized by the winner this year, senior Kyle Llarenas. He performed popular songs, included dancing, and had many exciting parts to his performance, such as when he threw money into the air during the debut of his original song, “So Good.”

Despite some of the technicalities, the most consistently repeated advice from judges and Terrace Idol participants is that practice is extremely important, and confidence is key.

“You need to love it; it’s like playing the piano, if you’re not willing to sit down at the piano, put on a timer and play at least 30 minutes without getting up, [then] you don’t want it bad enough,” Dolacky said. “Students who want to do something like this have a love for it.”

Although as Dolacky commented, there can be some barriers when getting into a field like this.

“The arts are not cheap. These people out here singing, I would say there’s a big majority of them that take private lessons that cost money, or dance classes that cost money,” Dolacky said. “If you really think you’re interested in this field, start now.”

But in the end, Terrace Idol is an enjoyable event that always carries an upbeat atmosphere with it. Some of the best moments are when contestants are simply having fun on stage.

“You just gotta have fun with it,” Llarenas said. “Even if you’re nervous, just go all out and that’s all you really gotta do.”

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