Idea for new contest.

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by waynefiler, Sep 23, 2011.

  1. waynefiler

    waynefiler Member

    Hi guys,

    I've been thinking about this for a while now but since all the troll comments about Black Dyke and their Breath of Souls recording being untidy and the rest after just a single reading, How would people/bands feel if a new contest came about where they were judged on their sight-reading.

    We all slog for weeks and weeks rehearsing test pieces to try and produce the perfect performance of said piece, and I feel that the measure of good band is how good they are at reading as it is this that separates the good from bad bands. The quicker that the players are able to get to grips with their parts the sooner the MD's are able to shape the music and not spoon-feed notes to players.

    I was thinking, assuming that we were able to keep the test pieces a secret, draw the orders of the bands then in their order, an hour or so before their time slot on stage provide the band with a rehearsal room and the music that is to be performed

    I class myself as a good sight-reader and think that this would be a true test of how good a band is and I personally would love to give this a try though perhaps not my band!
  2. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    Interesting proposition, and I'd love to hear it - but naaah, that would just be a good test of sight-reading ability.

    I consider myself an excellent sight-reader, but I was a million miles from being the best sounding cornet player when I was actually playing. Just because a person is a good sight-reader, or the band have good overall sight-reading prowess doesn't mean they are a better (or worse) band. Besides that, you are not then starting off from a level playing field.

    A similar, but perhaps slightly better example of this would be to provide the piece to a band just 24/48 hours before they were due to play it in a contest - then see which band brings it up to the highest standard on stage. :)

    Loads of variations possible on this theme.
  3. jockinafrock

    jockinafrock Active Member

    OMG! Can you imagine then if the adjudicators had to sight read it too..? :wink:
  4. euphojim

    euphojim Member

    An interesting idea which would certainly test out the bands and moreso the conductors and individual players.

    Unfortunately, the audience experience would not be very good and, unless the music was far easier than most of today's test pieces, few bands (in any section) would manage to get through the music in one go.

    The idea of giving the bands the music 24/48 hours before is far better but to make it a fairer competition, all bands should attend the contest venue for the whole weekend and be allocated equal rehearsal times prior to the final showdown on the Sunday evening. Should make a fun weekend.
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2011
  5. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    I can think of a few examples where I thought they were... (allegedly...)
  6. eflatbass

    eflatbass Supporting Member

    This sounded a good idea to me, until I remembered some of my own experiences of playing unrehearsed pieces. Joining Langley Band in 1972, never having seen any music outside of SA publications, I was frequently faced with instances of performing previously unseen music at concerts. My sight reading was very good, but problems quickly appeared on the horizon.

    A sudden break (ll) in a Gilbert and Sullivan overture caught me out well and truly – I was the only player in the band to continue past it without pausing. Repeats and codas in certain marches were also a nightmare. Capping everything, however, was the night we performed the 1812 overture under the direction of the great Harry Mortimer. No one had thought to warn me of the miniature canon that was to explode into life! From that moment on, my part was a complete blur.

    I am sure many of you can quote even better examples than the ones I have given. It would be great to hear them.
  7. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Ermm ... wasn't that the point?
  8. waynefiler

    waynefiler Member

    I feel that my providing the music 1hr/2hr before the contest far more equal than providing it advance. By doing it this way all participants have the same rehearsal times as each other.

    Assuming the bands turn up for the weekend -at say Butlins- and recieve the music in their welcome packs.

    As we all know the top section at Butlins have 2 contests over that weekend, why not have this as the sunday contest for the lower sections? Gives them a reason to stick around for the whole weekend! Nobody's interested in the entertainment contest anyway ;)

    This kind of contest probably wouldnt be the same for the listener as the traditional type, but surely any punter coming for a listen and knowing what kind of contest was being held wouldn't be expecting perfection but a clearer indication to how good the bands actually are.
  9. waynefiler

    waynefiler Member

  10. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    Not the way I read it, Gareth... the OP suggested that sight reading ability was a test of a band being good or not good, which in my opinion isn't correct. It's a way of ascertaining only the sight-reading ability of players in the band and is nothing really to do with the band being good or not.
  11. robcav

    robcav Member

    Great idea - so long as every test piece was a new commission that no band had ever played before. Could be a fantastic opportunity to stimulate the creation of lots of new music. On the other hand, how many composers would really want their efforts to be used and/or abused in this way?
  12. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Well, yes, OK I see what you're saying, but the way I read it, the suggestion was to find the best sightreading band, not necessarily the best band ...
  13. In the school contests here in the U.S., more specifically, in the state of Illinois, the bands played three prepared pieces, with three adjudicators, then went to the sight reading room, which had one judge. All parts were face down on the stand, including the conductor's. At the judges word, the parts were turned over, and the conductor had five minutes to go over the music with the students, then the piece was played. After the performance, the conductor was allowed five minutes to evaluate the reading with the students if desired. The ratings were averaged with all four adjudicators. Audiences were not permitted in the sight-reading room, as that would put earlier bands at a disadvantage. Again, this is school bands, but I thought you might find it interesting.
  14. halsasaurus

    halsasaurus Member

    Sight reading for players is an interesting idea but I think that I would prefer the MD to have time to study the piece otherwise it would be more a test of note bashing and technical ability of the players and be far removed from making music
  15. defnotsimon

    defnotsimon Member

    Giving the bands the pieces 24/48 hours before probably wouldnt end up being a test of how quickly a band can work up a reasonable performance of a test piece but more which band can get their players to take the days off work! A better test would be give the bands the piece on the morning of the contest and limit the rehearsal time, say to 2 hours.
  16. hobgoblin

    hobgoblin Member

    This is a great idea -typical of the genius that so often goes unnoticed on this forum. The fact that several folk from even the lower sections on this thread have already admitted to being very good readers makes me think this might work. Bring it on, but get ready for the accusations of composers/adjudicators sneaking into certain bandrooms in Wales & Yorkshire with manuscript copies of the piece!
  17. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Can see the argument, but on the other hand, why shouldn't the MDs be tested on their sightreading abilities as well?
  18. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    You mind you don't cut yourself...
  19. JRH

    JRH Member

    It's very similar in other states in the US as well.

    Typically, the judges will first ask everyone to turn over the part, and verify the part on their stand is the correct part, and that they are not familiar with the particular piece already, then turn it back over again. They have multiple pieces of music, which they choose randomly for each band. If a band member or conductor says they are familiar with the music, they switch to one of the other pieces of music. This also means that someone in an early band can't give out hints to a later band, since they don't know which will be drawn.

    Then they will explain the time constraints, wish them good luck, and the conductor will be given a time period, usually 5 minutes. With one minute remaining, a verbal warning is called out.

    The conductor is allowed to count rhythms, point out accidentals, key changes, etc., things to be aware of generally. The band members are allowed to finger through their parts, but not sound any notes. Percussion can "air drum" only. In short, you don't make any noise. At the end of the time period, the conductor kicks it off and they run it down.

    The music is considerably lower in difficulty, mostly likely not something known at all, it could be a work written by a student composer. Normally in relatively "easy" key signatures and basic meters. I think the main purpose at the educational level of this is to prove everyone in the band can read music well, can follow a conductor on a part they don't already know, etc. It's usually about 25% or less of the overall contest score.
  20. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    Attitude, arrogance... Chip, shoulder... :)

    May or may not have been directed at me, not too sure... but I can assure you that whatever section I was playing in... from 4th to championship, I was indeed and always have been a very good sight reader. Sound... not so good, sight reading... fine thanks.

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