Everyones favourite..... the contesting question!

To contest or not ot contest?

  • Total voters
:D I do agree with contesting up to a point, but when the test piece becomes the only thing the band plays for 6 weeks prior it does get boring especially if you do the same piece for several contests in a row, so I think playing concert music is a good release, yes even the easy to play stuff, if it's a good entertainment piece what does it matter if it's easy as long as the audience like it???????

The question is do conductors get the right balance to keep band members happy?

:D :p :D :p :D :p :D :p :D :p


Supporting Member
mmmmmmmm i seem to remember this being talked about on whit friday.
well heres what i think.
contest can be a good idea (notice the slight change of opinion colin! :wink: ).
on the for side i think it gives bands a goal to aim for over a perion of time, and can give bands a benchmark of were they are in relationship to other bands in the area.
my bigest problem with contesting with bands ive played for in the past, is that they have always spent far to much time and money on contesting.
and not enough time working towards concert programmes. then when the concerts come along the MD has been panicking about programmes.
perhaps this is to do with the timming on the contests.
personaly i think the start of the year should be spent putting together a programme of music for summer concerts (the bread and butter of most bands) and less time spent on playing one piece of music!
this is of course my own opinion, although it was changed (slightly) by the converstaion that colin and i (and another gentleman, sorry i cant remember your name) late on friday night.
perhaps ill see somthing else on this post to change my opinion further.
a challenge and a half!!!!!


Its very difficult to vote on this one!

I personally don't enjoy them much. I agree with Singapore Northern Lass' sentiment.

They are, however, a good get-together.
I can also see the point of everyone playing the same piece makes it possible for the adjudicator to directly compare performances. (however, who is to say what is the "right" way to play a piece...)

There's also the chance of a player from band that's playing late in the draw having one (or more!) people throw the whole weeks of effort away by the results of the "demon drink"!

Whit Friday, however, is a fun festival and I enjoyed myself greatly...



It's a question of personal taste.....

I prefer contesting to concerts really...but there are lots of valid arguments for/against...

A contest piece can be a good training piece - or a bad idea for a band - the band have to want to do it - it can be soul destroying for a conductor to say the same things over and over again because the band - or some of them - weren't there - or haven't written things on their part - or maybe just aren't up to playing their part. A band is as good as its weakest player/section - rather than as good as its best player - inless there is such a humungous cadenza or solo that changes the dimensions somewhat.

Some bands are happy non contesting - great !! But we have a wealth of young talent that wants to get on with playing - and the best way of doing it is in the way the movement is configured....some bands do well and attract better playeers - other bands do well because they nurture their own home grown talent - who then b*gger off to a better band too.

Some conductors are not adept enough to fully bring out wht the adjudicator/composer want in a piece - let alone some of the basics - tuning/intonation/balance/dynamics etc. etc.

Some bands need to do engagements to keep financially afloat - others do not.

Those that need to do engagements can end up playing the same old pieces over and over again - which cannot be good for a band - but others can actively improve their band by putting on a challenging programme...others can go too far and over strech their band.

So - for me contests are a way of life...some in my band do not enjoy them as much (apart from qualifying for the nationals !) but have admitted that the detail spent on a piece - and rehearsing (and playing) more than once a week does actually improve the standard of the band.

Right thats me lot.....


New Member
contest - yes or no ?

Oh Come On.

We must contest.

Improve standard, something to work for, great day out, etc. etc., the list goes on.

Perhaps we should think of test pieces as another piece of MUSIC and not as a test piece. Perform it for what it is, not just to win.

And anyway, on top of all that, were's everyones fighting spirit gone these days. competition is good, we have it every day of our lives.

And don't tell me it's not P.C.

I'll get off my soap box now.

Thanks for reading me.


Active Member
Its a double edged sword this one. On the one hand contesting provides a great platform with which to improve the standard of the band. Yes concerts should have that effect but given the sort of music the public tend to appreciate at a concert they don't really push the band in the same way, also they dont provide the same sort of pressure (unless your doing a solo) that contest do and so the vast majorty of players tend not to work so hard. There is also the point that if you do a concert with say 10 -15 items you will be unlikely to get the sort of time on each piece that would give a "contest" performance.

The problem I tend to have with contests are a) the adjudicators and b) own choice contests. If the adjudicator is unable or unwilling to give a clear and concise set of comments pointing out where the band (or conductor) went wrong and where they went right then nothing is gained, I have lost count of the number of contests where the adjudicators comments do not match up to the performance (even when sitting down with the comments and the CD!). Personally I hate own choice contests since there are too much open to abuse and can be almost destructive. The organisers of such contest should provide clear boundaries as to what constitutes the "minimum" standard for that section, I have played in far too many own choice contests where band A pick a challenging piece which they regard as appropriate for that section whilst band B pick a peice thats well below that standard, band B wins and band A gets comments along the lines of "pick pieces you can play...". This in my oponion is wholly destructive since the band figures "to hell with it lets just play Little Suite For Brass next year".

Just for the record though I love doing the nationals. Its an even playing field and I enjoy the rehearsals leading up to it.


Active Member
I agree with a lot of what's gone before on the pro-contesting side and also, as a relative newcomer to banding I find the community feel at contests very inspiring, whereas you can get very insular if you are just playing your own concerts.
I do think it's a good idea to contest . . however I believe that bands should not spend nearly so long practiciing for contests, that way you have less chance of alienating those who don't like to contest.

If you look at the professional music world they do an afternoon rehearsal and then play the concert in the evening. I'm not saying we should go this far, but reducing the number of rehearsals spent on a test piece to perhaps five or six I think would be a good idea.


Staff member
Although not actively involved in contesting myself at the moment I don't think that it is a bad thing at all, and I certainly enjoy attending contests as part of the audience. I would go along with what has been said about the amount of rehearsal time allocated for particular works - not necessarily test-pieces.

There is always going to be a danger of a piece of music becoming stale if people get fed up with playing it, and maybe this is where contesting can be of most value to the bands at the highest level. Although this to some extent goes against the idea of bands competing in order to improve their standard of playing, I am sure that it must be good to be able to pass out the music a week or so beforehand, knowing that by the time it is to be played in rehearsal folk will have by and large resolved any technical difficulties in the individual parts, and all that has to be done is to get it to gel into a musical whole.

When we were competing in the old 2nd section in the 1970's I don't recall ever spending the whole of a practice on the test-piece, as we all felt we would benefit from a bit a variety.


Active Member
for most smaller bands without big sponsors

no concerts = no money = no contests.

do both, just try to get the right balance


Personally I love contesting, Ok so the music can get a bit tiresome but they are great fun.

A contest is about the playing obviously but for me its also a chance to socialise not just with your band but with other people aswell.....which is always good!



I have been in a band that did no contests for years and to me it felt like we wernt working towards anything, just the occasional concert and this to me became a bit boring.

I like contests, Although its nice to win that doesnt always bother me, I just like the atmosphere of a good contest!


Active Member
jonford said:
I have been in a band that did no contests for years and to me it felt like we wernt working towards anything, just the occasional concert and this to me became a bit boring.

I like contests, Although its nice to win that doesnt always bother me, I just like the atmosphere of a good contest!

It's also a crackin opportunity to catch up with friends in other bands.


Contesting is an excellent day out.

Contesting is a great social occaision. Not only with your own band but getting to know other bands persons as well. The contest it self with the set test piece enables the band to work at something that you are not going to play one hundred and one times throughout the summer. The pieces are quite a challenge which is the idea of a 'test' piece. Some bands go a bit OTT when it comes to contesting entering every one. At Lanner we contest 4-5 times a year. Any more than this, I feel would be too much. Practising concert music repeatedly is frankly boring after a while concentration drops and so does enthusiasm. Bring on the hard stuff 1st section here we come.


The important part of contesting is testing the band against a test piece. This will invariably show any weakness in a player's or the band's performance. If this 'weakness' is addressed, personally or collectively, then the standard of performance will improve, if only by a little. Unfortunately, some players avoid addressing their 'weakness' and only do enough to scrape through the contest, and do not 'fix' the underlying problem. It's all to easy to blame poor arranging/composing to account for your own poor performance, I know , I've done it. When comes to the crunch you've got to produce the goods on the day, contest or concert. In general contest piece's are meant to be challenging and expose any deficiencies.
However, I do agree with my brother bands tend rehearse them to much. I look at it like this, it very similar to charging a battery, in which the rate of charging decreases with time. Where in a battery the 'extra' charge gained each second becomes less and less, can be thought of as 'extra' points obtainable after each rehearsal. There comes a point where rehearsing may not benefit the contest outcome.

An interesting point here is that a given test piece will only highlight certain problems. It could be argued that rehearsal time could be better spent not on specific problems but on general band technique, which in the long run will better enable a band to tackle test pieces.
I agree with most of what has been said before. Contesting improves individual players as well as the band as a whole and it gives the band something to work towards.

Our band does a lot of concerts as well and it is good to get the variety but I think we should contest more because it would keep players on the ball and hopefully encourage players to attend rehearsals if there is something specific to work for. :wink:


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