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Re: Re: AREA TEST PIECES......
We found pretty much the same here (Australia, specifically New South Wales). Our band competed two successive years in D Grade recently (A is top, D is lowest for adult bands). First time, the piece was very difficult, with a need for four percussionists who were essential to the piece. Only four bands competed - many D Grade bands took one look at the piece and opted out. Of the four that did compete, only two came close to mastering the piece. The two bands that did get their hands round it were immediately offered promotion to C Grade. (We came second to a better band. They took the deserved promotion, we decided to compete at D Grade again the next year.) So, the piece was clearly not suitable for the grade it was set at - even in the administration's eyes. Why was it set? We have a large band (up to 35 players), with a spread of ability from past State Champions down to people who just like to have a blow. This is typical of (or perhaps a bit better than typical of) a lower grade band. Although we are a good size, we only carry one percussionist and certainly no tuned percussion. If nothing else, we just don't have room to store it (we share our band room with other, non-music, organisations). The second year's selection was a little better and seven bands entered, but it still stretched our resources, particularly in the percussion department. We won, and were again offered promotion to C Grade, which we took. Selecting a contest piece is obviously a very difficult thing, but it's gotta be done better for the starter-grade bands. It should challenge without intimidating. In particular, it should not REQUIRE resources which are unusual in the grade of band. For D Grade, every band with a full complement at varying abilities and a single percussionist should be able to produce a performance they can be happy with. The good bands will then shine because of their superior numbers, section coverage, percussion, etc. Part of the problem I believe is a tendency to commission pieces to be written specifically for the contests. IMHO this is a terrible idea for the lower grades, as it's difficult to develop "to a budget". Additionally, the committee can probably only commission one piece for the grade, so is hostage to the ability of the composer to design a piece for the grade, as well as making a nice piece of music. For the lower grades, pick the pieces from a (small) set of tried and true pieces. Alternatively, try new pieces out on a band newly promoted to the next level - they have the recent knowledge and can advise on the suitability of the piece - if it's difficult for them, it's too difficult for the grade. Principal Horn, Assistant Conductor Manly District Band manlybrassband@xxxxxxxxxxxx http://members.optushome.com.au/djsmart/ManlyBand/ -- NJH Sheet Music, bandsman.co.uk/music.htm, Prima Arts, quality music for quality bands, www.prima-arts.co.uk, Toot-Sweet, instrument repairers, www.toot-sweet.co.uk, Free e-mail address with spam and virus removal, bandsman.co.uk/mail.htm this list, send a plain text mail to listproc@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx with the following body (not subject):