So what is it then? Testpiece contests or the Entertainment ones??

  • I'm a member of a contesting band, so I'm made to say that I like it!!!

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Active Member
Our band is choosing contests, and we couldn't decide. So, what contest do you prefer, Entertainment, or Test-piece ones?


tMP Founder
Staff member
I think you cold add a few more categories here ... maybe "Test Piece" could be split into two.... i.e.

  • 'Own Choice' Contests and 'Set Test' Contest
  • Another opition of "A balance between each of these..."

... just some suggestions.... :D


Active Member
Its great to get own choice contests because the conductor can chose one that:

a) Suits the band
b) That the band enjoy playing

The downside is that it becomes a lottery as the judge may have his personal bias for a certain piece. Both good and bad.

Entertainments are also a lottery cos do you go for entertaining pieces with not much challange or challanging pieces that are not entertaining or mix it up. Results can vary dramatically from contest to contest and from adjudicator to adjudicator.

The old fashioned everyone plays the same one is fairer to adjudicate but bloody boring for the audience, especially if the test piece is crap. :roll:


I agree totally with Wonky Baton and would like to add that my personal favourite is the own choice test piece.

I don't like the new trend in entertainments contests - I remember when you were asked to play a 15-20 min concert programme - with the emphasis on concert music, but the new entertainment contests are more towards putting on a show!



Definately own choice test piece contests for me then at least the conductor can pick a piece that suits the band, concentrates on its strengths and is one the band like and enjoy playing. After all, we all play better when performing a piece we actually like! I really don't feel an adjudicator can honestly judge the best band when he hears performance after performance of the same piece, especially somewhere like the areas where there are lots of bands playing.
I love doing entertainment contests and play for a band who is extremely successful at these but I agree that some performances are turning into pantomimes.Not us, I hasten to add! We tend to let the music and the way we play it be the deciding point.....and its worked to date!!


Staff member
I realise this isn't practical for most settings, but I like the set-up at the Europeans, where you have a combination of set piece and own choice. This gives the adjudicators some common ground against which to assess standards, as well as allowing conductors/bands to choose something which allows them to play to their strengths. As a member of the audience, I would tend towards a set piece as I like to follow with a score, and would not fancy the practicality or the expense of having a dozen or more scores to cart around. There is certainly no better way to get inside a piece than listening to 20 or so bands giving their own interpretation - invariably, there will be something come out towards the end that you have not been aware of in any other performance, and which will make you look afresh at the score.


New Member
I like contests where you play a testpiece, march and hymn tune. That way all bands strengths (and weaknesses) are displayed. That's good competition!

The Cornet King

Active Member
Set Test Piece is the choice for me. Although i love to hear own choice contests, so you can get a selection of pieces, for me the only really fair way of contesting is the set piece.

Plus its great to hear so many different interpretation os one piece. You can hear the good, the excellent and sometimes the not so good. That for me is what makes set test piece contests so exciting! :D


Supporting Member
I prefer own choice contests. Hopefully the MD chooses a piece that the band enjoys and can make a decent job of, so its usually more satisfying than set pieces, and its more interesting to listen to other bands. I'm never convinced by entertainments contests - so many bands' programmes are either well boring or excruiatingly embarrassing (if they try too hard and take the dressing up and am dram too far) and I really hope their normal concerts aren't like that!

Having said that though, for a Spring contest I prefer entertainments because it makes a change from all the test piece work for the areas.


Active Member
I really enjoy all contests but my favourite is March, Hymn Tune and own choice Test piece (which is the format at the Fife Charities Contest).


Contesting requires the same amount of effort whether its entertainment, set or own choice. Its going to be nights on end of sectionals/rehersals/home practice etc we all know...

I just love the buzz of the day. The banter/rivalry the aprez-ski

at the end of the day everyone works so hard any tension is deserved as if you dont go to put on the best performance possible, why do you bother.

The style of contest only matters if you're going in to listen to more than a handful of bands, pther than that they all sound the same from the bar!


Active Member
jambo said:
The banter/rivalry the aprez-ski

Is that where we all go off piste?

I enjoy all contests - the fact that they've all got their own rules/formats/parameters is part of the fun.

Also enjoy good concerts, before anyone gets on their high horse.


Rambo Chick

yes i agree with mr lancaster. :D

contests can be real fun especially if you win!! as for the music, if you enjoy playing it, i don't think it's origins of selection matter so much. both entertainments and test-piece contest can be enjoyable :grnsm


united co-operatives yorkshire
I like the set test pieces most. It's exciting finding out your test piece!
However, this is probably because the majority of set pieces i've played, i've really enjoyed. Although if i hadn't enjoyed them, then i'd go for own choice test piece for sure. It's so much easier to put maximum effort and practise in if you enjoy the piece.
I can see why people like entertainment contests though, because i always feel more relaxed an under less pressure when playing in entertainment contests compared with me at test piece contests - :shock: :cry: :shock: - whether this is good thing, i'm not sure because when i relax a lot i find myself loosing focus and my performance seems to slip a bit which is never good when you're being judged!! :lol:
Contests are Ok for meeting friends in the bar, but personally I would rather have a great concert than a contest.

If I had to choose between the options available form the poll, then set piece is the one i prefer


It's hard to choose between the types of contests - they both have their place really. To have all the bands playing the same piece must make it much easier to compare them, but by the time you have listened to 19 bands all droning on the same piece they must blur rather. I sometimes wonder if the adjudicator has got us mixed up with someone else when the results come out!! :wink:

On the other hand, what are brass bands really here for anyway? To entertain! So surely the ability to do that well is the important thing (and surely that includes a certain amount of theatricals)

So please reserve me a place on the fence!

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