Selecting Band Music for Contest – General Guidelines

When selecting band music for contest there are many things to consider.  These are three of the most important.

1. Consider the unique strengths and weaknesses of the band (strong/weak sections.
2. Look for a nice melody & legitimate accompaniment (not just a repeated ostinato pattern).
3. The director and students should like the piece.

Bruce Pearson, a contributing author to Teaching Music through Performance in Beginning Band states that, “Band conductors must first be excited about the music before they can excite their students…Prudent band conductors should temper their enthusiasm for the music with good judgement.  It is important to find the balance between challenging students and providing an attainable goal.”

Things to consider when choosing band music for a second band or very young or small band:
-Individual sections not overly exposed
-Nothing in the extreme range
-Instruments should double parts (example: 1 horn part that is doubled by the saxophones)
-Instruments not divided too thinly (example: only 2 cornet parts, 2 clarinet parts)
-Bass line doubled (example: tuba, bassoons, bari sax)
-Percussion parts – be sure you have enough people to cover them.  Ideally they are diverse but not complicated
-Harmonics that the students can hear

Resources for Selecting Band Music
Teaching Music Through Performance in Band (music analysis series of books) View here
Young Band Repertoire Project (music analysis sheets on-line) View here

Click here to read the second post in this series that covers very specific qualifications for Grade 1 & 2 literature.  

Related Reading: 
Band Seating Chart (free template)
Motivate your Band – Countdown to Contest
Choosing Literature for Success at Contest – Every Concert Has a Purpose
Teach Style First

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