I used to be in a region that was and still is predominantly large suburban school districts that all have their own in-house S&E contests. (I was at a 2C middle school).
I found a great solution to that quandary that you might check into. A neighboring region held a region-wide S&E middle school contest for any of the schools in their region who wanted to bring their students, and those schools were also mostly smaller ATSSB schools.
I contacted their region chairman and asked if I could bring my students to their contest, even though I was in a different region. Middle schools are allowed in certain circumstances to attend events in other regions and the S&E contest was one of them. The contest was not an official UIL S&E contest, but they did (and still do) go by all UIL rules, registrations and the UIL PML. It was a wonderful contest and my students were able to experience an S&E contest for many years that held to UIL standards.
Once I got permission from that region and my admin., I then had to go into UIL Forms and create an additional account in that other region in order to do entries for that contest.
I'd recommend first checking with your admin. and then start contacting the region chairpersons in your neighboring regions to see if you can do that.
Where can I find a MS/JH Solo & Ensemble contest that is open to any school? Specifically in Central/West-Central TX (between Midland/Odessa and San Antonio)? If they are out there, I can't find them and they don't advertise very well.
In my area (central Texas), I know of a few schools that host what is basically a beginner solo and ensemble contest. Designed for first year players to do an easy solo (usually from mid-book in a method book) and get some feedback, it's not really what I'm looking for.
First of all, why doesn't UIL do S&E for middle school/junior high? They start UIL academics in 2nd grade, why not S&E in 5th or 6th? Your argument may be that Music Memory is the "UIL Music thing" for those grades. But many of the 2-8 UIL events seem to be specifically designed to transfer into the HS UIL academics events. There is JH one-act play, there is JH Concert and Sight Reading "Evaluation." Why isn't there JH Solo & Ensemble?
I want to get my 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students doing S&E and be ready for it in HS. I know that I could just get them to do things on their own for a grade or for fun, and some would.
I know of other (much larger) schools that do their own in-house S&E contest. The kids want more.
Lets be honest. Many/most kids don't do band, S&E, region band because they love band (I know that a lot do, but hear me out). They do it to go on a trip. To get out of their one horse town, go to the "big city" and get a meal at Olive Garden or Chik-fil-a. If that is what I need to dangle in front of them, I will do it. I just have to get them there once and they will be hooked and more likely to want to do it in HS.