Area test pieces, lower section

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Dave Payn, Oct 28, 2004.

  1. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Seeing as either (a) 4br have seen fit not to publish my comments about the choice of test pieces for the lower section areas next year or (b) they haven't received them (I did send them twice!) I'll offer my opinions here, if I may, knowing that there is another thread about these elsewhere.

    Basically, I feel - from a perspective of what I believe to be a good working knowledge of all the pieces concerned - that I can't understand the fuss about choosing Variations for Brass Band, Tam O'Shanter's Ride and Divertimento. I believe them all to be thorough tests for each of the sections and they will probably make life a little easier for the adjudicators in sorting out the men/women from the boys/girls. Just my take on it, but...

    4br commented on the poor standard in general at Harrogate. I'm not surprised, because the pieces were not announced until June, giving the bands three months to prepare the works in the middle of the summer 'bandstand' season (i.e. the gigs that keep the bands alive with the income provided. Contests don't provide a regular income, do they?) whereas with the announcement of the area pieces being made in September, bands have, if they wish, six months or so to prepare these works in what, give or take the odd Remembrance Day job or Christmas concerts, is regarded as 'contest season'. So, my suggestion is that as the area pieces were announced in September, surely the selection committee have six months or so thereafter to choose the finals' pieces so that they can be announced when the last areas have had their contest? That way, during March, April etc. when 'bandstand gigs' aren't really in full flow, the bands who've qualified can spend some quality time on the finals' pieces, put them away for a while whilst the summer jobs are negotiated (helping to alleviate 'boredom' with the finals pieces) and then go back to them to finish off rehearsing them and therefore hopefully, produce better performances come the finals!

    Or have I missed something obvious? I'd welcome tMPers views on this

    Kind regards
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2004
  2. Chunky

    Chunky Active Member

    Could not agree more with all of your comments Dave. It has always seemed bizarre to me that you get 6 months prep time for the area, yet only 3 months for the finals.

    If a band qualifies for the finals, it will need to do a reasonable amount of 'bandstand / summer' type engagements to earn money to off set the costs of going to the finals.

    Yet again it seems all that is needed is a bit of common sense.
  3. RonBarnes

    RonBarnes Member

    Area test pieces,lower section

    Fully agree with your comments, Dave. Contest pieces must be challenging and we do have six months to hear them and start learning them. I think it's an excellent selection.
  4. BurgerBoy

    BurgerBoy Member

    Finals Test Piece

    On top of that, the first section test piece for Harrogate wasn't avaliable for several weeks after the announcement was made.
  5. andyp

    andyp Active Member

    I agree, 3 months over summer isn't really enough, with all the marching jobs etc, however you can pretty much write off the tail end of November and all of December too for contest rehearsal, due to Xmas rehearsal/concerts/carolling, so you only start seriously in January, even though you may have looked at it a bit beforehand.
    We've had a couple of goes through Tam O'Shanter's Ride, and I like you think it'll really sort the good from the not-so-good. It is on the cusp of being too hard for 3rd section, but then so it should be if it's going to be a "test". As usual it'll be basses/back row cornets that'll have the most to do, simply because in concert work and such like they don't generally get such difficult things to play. Then you suddenly get a test piece which is a lot harder. This is even worse for back row in top section, one minute you're um-chukking through a march, next minute you're playing Dove Descending!
    The score notes for "Tam O'Shanter are well worth a read, too! (if you're a conductor, see if you can do it in front of the band without laughing.........!)
  6. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Indeed, but one has the rest of September and the whole of October, plus bits and bobs in November.... THEN January to late February/early March to get the pieces worked on. More time than for the finals' pieces (depending, of course, on the individual band's commitments)

    IYOUNG Member

    The criteria for entering section 4 is slightly different for the sections above in that bands that enter section 4 can be of a real wide ranging standard from beginners, first timers or experienced section 4 bands on the edge of section 3.

    I appreciate there are wide ranging standards in the other sections but at least each band is in that section as a result of previous performances.

    How do you then satisfy all bands in section 4? It will be interesting to see what the entries are like in section 4 in 2005. My own view is that the numbers are likely to be down.

    How does this then encourage ''new to contesting'' bands to enter? A 5th section won't help as the problem will just arise there in the end.

    So the question is should the criteria used to select the 4th Section area test peice be any different to the others?
  8. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    You've almost answered your own question, by referring to 'I appreciate there are wide ranging standards in the other sections but at least each band is in that section as a result of previous performances.'. It's all based, largely, on one performance per year, yes?. So some bands that will have a 'blinder' that day may find themselves out of their depth in the higher section should promotion occur, particularly with relatively 'easier' pieces as chosen by the selection committee in the previous year/s. The selectors this year, I believe, have accounted for the best that each section can provide with these choices. The bands with the best MD and players will come to the fore and therefore be truly competitive in the finals PROVIDED that the finals pieces are announced in good time. 'New' bands may well succeed if they're confident of giving a quality performance of the said pieces.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2004
  9. WhatSharp?

    WhatSharp? Active Member

    Depends on how you view the idea of a "Test Piece". In my own opion the idea isn't (or rather shouldn't be) to have a piece which any band in that section can win on but to have a piece which "Tests" the band to judge whether they are of a good enough standard to progress up a section. Bringing the piece down to the most common denominator may suit all the bands, but it doesn't provide a sufficently clear indication of which bands should go up and which should go down. Personally I think they have it right this year with the majority of sections, previous years we have had pieces which although not exactly easy have failed to show which bands make the grade and which dont and caused the adjudicators real problems.

    Just a thought anyway.
  10. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    Why are the area pieces announced 1/2 a year before the contests?

    Surely this is far too early. If the idea of test pieces and contests is to find the best band surely allowing a band to spend up to 6 months rehearsing a piece is ridiculous.

    Announce the area pieces on Jan 1st - 2 months before the areas at a time of year when most bands are not very busy
  11. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    I think this goes back to what was said earlier about the 4th section (once you have found a piece that will separate bands), some bands really need the time to put together a quality performance that they can be proud of. The best of the fourth section, of course go to Nationals in Harrogate and only have 2-3 months to put it together, which you would hope (if they are the best) they can.

    I would hope in choosing pieces, you would not only try to separate bands but also encourage bands to compete.
  12. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    This is why until recently, the placing/grading of Welsh bands would depend on four competitions held throughout the year. This in my opinion, was a far better method of determining the overall standard of bands. It took into account a very important major factor - that of consistency.

    Obtaining a National Grading based solely on the performance/results (thought these two are not necessarily related hehe) from one competition is just not the best way to determine who should go up a section and who should go down a section.
  13. IYOUNG

    IYOUNG Member

    Indeed the point of my post, I am not advocating a return to a choice for the masses, the area is there essentially to find the best bands in each section to go forward to the finals, but unlike the higher sections the choices for section 4 should take into account the opportunity to encourage bands to compete. That way the whole movement benefits.
  14. Farmer Giles

    Farmer Giles Member

    slightly off topic i know, but what is the deal with the finals music ?
    i qualified with a band in 2003 for the 4th section finals, and the finals piece was so much easier than the area it was untrue !
    i would have thought that if you qualify, you should expect to play a piece befitting the next section up as you are almost good enough to be there.

    as for a hard test in the areas, why not ? it will (or should) give all bands taking part the oppertunity to improve, and push boundaries that have (possibly) not previously been explored.

    just my two penneth.

  15. Craigsav83

    Craigsav83 Active Member

    The choice of 3rd and 4th section test pieces reflects the improvment of the standard of the lower section bands.

    Divertimento will be a good choice for 4th section, there is much more in it than last years Partita, it will keep the bands occupied!

    We have now played through Tam O'Shanters Ride a few times, its a good piece and very playable for bands of this standard. If bands can't play it after 6 months, they never will.

    Ps. The whole point of a test piece is to test the band, shouldn't be any complaints then?
  16. David Pegram

    David Pegram Member

    The test pieces look spot on this year and should prove a good test. We need the best bands to get to the finals which is the lower sections show case day.I do agree that an earlier announcement and publication of finals pieces would have been helpful.
  17. andyp

    andyp Active Member

    True, but given that most lower section bands have a fair number of people who (and I don't think this is unfair, people have jobs/kids etc that take up their time) either can't or won't pick up their instrument between rehearsals, once you've had six weeks away from a test piece over Xmas, how much are they going to remember come January?
    We have Wilkinson's contest on 21/11, then 14 jobs (including carolling) between then and Xmas day. Don't think we'll be seeing Tam again till the first week in January!

    Still agree with you though, there should be some consistency, say 3 months before for every contest with a set piece?
  18. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Fair point, Andy, but the problem I believe Fulham (and maybe others) had with The Four Noble Truths, for instance, is that it was announced in June and we had a lot of 'bandstand' jobs which interfered with our rehearsals for the test piece and as a 4th section band, you can't really NOT rehearse the bandstand repertoire, particularly if you want the organisers of said jobs to book you again the following year.

    Still, my new band don't compete as a rule, so I'm envious of you all! I may have questioned some aspects of contesting in previous threads but I've never said bands shouldn't do them and with what to me, is a great selection of pieces for the areas..... WAAAAAAHHH!! ;-)
  19. Vickitorious

    Vickitorious Active Member

    Exactly!! During the summer, practising for the finals was a nightmare. We never had a full band because of people on holidays ( I missed 9 rehearsals :shock: ) and we spent a lot of the time doing concerts and rehearsals with choirs and singers that we did concerts with. I don't think we even had a proper full band all together until the very last week. :-? Do you think the pieces should be announced after the last area has taken place? :-?

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