Area test pieces 2005 part II

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Dave Payn, Sep 13, 2004.

  1. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    I must admit I find it hard to believe the negative comments the choice of pieces for particularly sections 1 to 3 have attracted.

    Over-stretching bands is no good to anyone but in Comedy Overture, Variations for Brass Band and Tam O'Shanter's Ride (yes, I HAVE played them all, before anyone asks) provide a useful opportunity for bands wishing to improve. Yes, I don't doubt that sections of these pieces would still provide a test for some top section bands, but well.... so would pieces like Suite Gothique or Moorside Suite (note; for SOME top section bands!). What's the point if you're not going to be challenged.

    Comedy Overture was a top section piece as long ago as 1934, Variations for Brass Band in 1957. If we accept (as I believe most of us do) that standards have improved, then why not give the lower sections a chance to see and play what the best bands were playing all those years ago? (I may be alone, bit I whilst I know about its pitfalls, Variations for Brass Band in particular is an ideal test for 2nd section bands in my view!) Oddly enough, no one's picked up on the fact that Bryan Kelly's Divertimento was used as a THIRD section area piece not that long ago.(1996, I believe), and now it's the 4th section test.....
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2004
  2. WhatSharp?

    WhatSharp? Active Member

  3. HBB

    HBB Active Member

    'Bout time you updated that Steve?! :p
  4. WhatSharp?

    WhatSharp? Active Member

    Along with the band website and the 101 other things that I have to do before Sunday :-(
  5. HBB

    HBB Active Member

    Heheh! Pass some here, honestly! I'm free all day tomorrow and friday!
  6. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member


    You don't watch when I conduct, you don't read when I post....

  7. JR

    JR Member

    if Variations for Brass band is an ideal test for the area what on earth are they going to choose for the finals? - presumably something much easier (see this year's 3rd section!)

    john r
  8. lynchie

    lynchie Active Member

    what's wrong with variations for the 2nd section? From (limited) experience it seems to me that 2nd section bands have a number of very talented players on and around the end seats at least and so, with enough hard work, it should be a good test for the bands... you've got till March to work on it!!!
  9. Chunky

    Chunky Active Member

    Quite agree Lynchie. After all isnt a test piece a PIECE of music to TEST bands. Or am I missing something?
  10. IanHeard

    IanHeard Member

    I think there has to be balance, when players are stretched too far technically, how can a conductor add things like interpretation to a performance.
    Contest organisers need to realise that contesting is suppose to be fun and weeks of "note bashing" a difficult piece can be counter productive.

    In my opinion "Tam O Shanter" is too difficult (as Vizcaya was this year) for the third section, and I believe entries could be low as a result. In my 25 year contesting experience I have only ever heard this peice in the first and championship sections. Now some "expert" deems it suitable for the third section!

    Is it me or is contesting getting farcical.

    My own band recently purchased "Prisms" at the cost of £50 for a local contest (2nd Section) and after protestations from some bands that is was too difficult it was changed...we then approached the organisers for a refund and were told that this cannot be sanctioned until the next meeting of the Association.
    Its enough to make you want to join a "concert band" or something!

    Ian Heard
  11. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Nothing wrong with concert bands..... ;-) (Aw, come on. I have to say that, I conduct one! :))
  12. WhatSharp?

    WhatSharp? Active Member

    We all go on about how contests are there to stretch the band and improve standards. In order to do this the test piece needs to present a challange to the band, without the challenge there is no improvement. This is one of the biggest gripes I have regarding own choice contests, bands pick pieces on how quickly they can knock out a winning performance regardless of whether the piece is suitable for that section, I have lost count of the number of times I have heard Tryptich in the 2nd section, fine piece though it is it's not 2nd section. Poor old selectors are damnned if they do and damned if they don't.

    Variations ... bring it on! I'm going to really enjoy the next few months!
  13. Mikey Boy

    Mikey Boy New Member

    Couldn't agree with you more, Dave.

    I have had a couple of posts on the first Area's 2005 thread and said almost exactly the same.

    Just another point to consider. If the pieces are made to be relatively easy, how the heck are the adjudicators supposed to split the performances in a reasoned fashion? More reason for tears before bedtime I suspect.

    There is plenty of time to start and practice the pieces for next year. Raising the standards and the overall game is what the contests are for.

    If players are not striving to get better, they are not standing still, they are actually getting worse.

    It will give far more satisfaction to the lower sections to be challenged like this and produce a very good performance that they can be justifiable proud of in the future.

    Mikey Boy
    B Flat
  14. Well Worth It

    Well Worth It Active Member

    Split counter will be ticking over.
  15. jpbray

    jpbray Member

    It would appear "Tam O Shanter" has raised a few eyebrows, however it is a CONTEST and it now remains to be seen what sort a fist the respective bands make of it. Surely a valid argument is that limits need to be pushed with a step a back if it seen that the selectors have over stepped the mark.
  16. Janet Watkins

    Janet Watkins Member

    Just to play Devil's Advocate to the arguement that higher level test pieces are being given to lower section bands:

    Diamond Heritage, played as the Third Section National Test Piece at the weekend was used as the Fourth Section Test Piece at the Mineworkers contest in 2000.


  17. johnflugel

    johnflugel Active Member

    To me, area pieces are picked to do the following:

    1) Find the top few bands who are capable of not only promotion but holding their own in the section above.
    2) Find the bottom few bands who are out of their depth.
    3) Give the 'middling' bands an idea of what they have to aim for

    I don't know the 2nd, 3rd and 4th sections tests back to front but 'Comedy' is superb for First Section and I would be confident that those who will be placed in the top 3 or so will be capable of doing well in the top section. What's the point of picking a piece that everyone can comfortably play? Sometimes it's necessary to be given something you don't think you can do, in order to improve.
  18. IanHeard

    IanHeard Member

    The trick is to select a testpeice that is "appropriate" for the section....using your logic Life Divine would be a "cracking test" for the fourth section but surely they would`nt be capable of playing it!

    Also, if none of the competing bands can do justice to a particular peice.. how does a adjudicator split the bands then... could be more tears!

    Ian Heard.
  19. Tuba Miriam

    Tuba Miriam Member

    In terms of finding the appropriate level of test for the "areas", (be it Champ or lower sections) perhaps adjudicators should be consulted?

    Referees submit post-match reports in football, maybe something similar should happen in banding (or does it already?). Adjudicators at all the area contests could submit reports, detailing in their opinions, those technical and musical aspects of a piece that were handled well and those that caused problems in that section. These reports could be submitted to the selection committee to help inform their decision making process in providing an "appropriate" test next time, as well as gauging the success of their selection that year.

    Of course, there's a huge range of standard in most sections so generalizing is difficult in any case, let alone applying the conclusions to another piece, and style of piece, entirely, but presumably the selection committee have some criteria for choosing the pieces they do ... the black art of test piece selection ...

    A musical test, and setting such a test, will always have a subjective element to it by its very nature; that said, how do you really define the difference between a second and a third section band, for example? If asked, would the selection committee be able to say? Are such questions irrelevant ... ?

    In short, no one would dispute that contests are there to test bands. The question is in defining a suitable test.
  20. Mikey Boy

    Mikey Boy New Member

    With reference to the response from Kirmat, I agree that the test pieces concerned should cover the range of abilities, but, having played them all (except the Championship Section piece) I don't think that that they are in the same league of difficulty as Life Devine.

    I do take the point, though, that the piece has to be able to be played by at least some of the bands, otherwise it will be a nonsense of a competition.

    It could also be that another way to choose test pieces is similar to the old format at the Masters.

    Send a selection of 3 or 4 and let the bands vote, with a simple majority getting their preference, taking into account that there could not be any variation of piece from area to area, the votes cast would have to be taken in total for the Country in each section

    What a nightmare of organisation though, unless it was done via the internet !!!

    Just a thought

    Mikey Boy
    B Flat

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