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 Post subject: Grades of Music?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 03, 2004 11:03 pm 
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My band director told us that he was going to give us "Grade 5" music for our next concert.
What are grades of the music... I'm assuming difficulty, and how are pieces of music scored?

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 03, 2004 11:21 pm 
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From what I remember, the grade levels are 1 through 6, with six being the hardest.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2004 10:13 am 
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Band Music grade levels are HIGHLY subjective. Generally, band music is graded 1-5, with an occasional 6. In SCSBOA they sometimes refer to it my letter (ie grade 5 is AA, Grade 4 is A, etc), and not too long ago a system came out called Band Music that Works! that rated music in 1-10, with very specific criteria. It was pretty accurate. It never caught on-music people are nothing if not traditionalists.

The grading is supposed to based on technical factors, ie range of the parts, speed, key, meters, etc. By this grading slow, sustained pieces, which most musicians will tell you are the most difficult of all to do well, are usually down graded.

People (again, generally) consider grade 1 to be elementary level music. Grade 2 is easy junior high (say 7th grade band) and grade 3 is difficult junior HS or easy HS music. Again, thats pretty subjective based on no ones in particulars standard. Grade 3 COULD be pretty hard for some HS's. Grade 4 is considered "standard" high school level. Many high schools would not be able to play grade 4 at superior level, while others would consider it merely sight reading material. Grade 5 is difficult high school level, also played often at colleges. There are some grade 4 pieces considered "landmark" pieces played at colleges too. Again, depends on what college. Grade 6 is considered the toughest of all band music, definately college level, but that doesn't mean great high school bands can't play it. And there ranges within each grade level. Do you consider Erickson's Toccata for Band and the Holst Suite in F the same difficulty? Most grading lists do.

One time I heard 2 bands do the Hindemith Symphony for band (a grade 6 if there ever was one) at the same event. One was flawless. The other had no business even looking at it.

I have seen music lists where a piece some consider grade 5 is listed as a grade 3, or vice-versa. I also believe some publishers downgrade a piece to get more people to buy it, or again, sometimes vice-versa.

For instance, my band is working on "I Am" by Andrew Boysen at this moment. Kjos, the publisher calls it a grade 4. Many state music lists call it a grade 3. Which is it? Well, many of the technical aspects are not grade 4, although I don't know too many grade 3 pieces where the 1st trumpet goes up to high "C" above the staff.

I guess the best way to think of it is like when you order steak at a resteraunt. Some call "rare" one thing, another calls it "Medium." And depending on what you like, you could call it "well done." Its not very accurate.

>JCYS


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2004 8:13 pm 
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We play "A" or 5 in most concerts, but we whip out the AA for Festival. Oh yeah.


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 Post subject: UIL (Texas) Music Lists
PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 4:40 pm 
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For looking at the various music lists (classifications), I suggest you go to the JW Pepper site at: www.jwpepper.com/catalog/welcome.jsp

You can check out the lists of various states or regions of the country for comparison, clarification or research. SCSBOA does recognize the UIL (Texas) List (classification) for SCSBOA Band & Orchestra Festivals as well as the SCSBOA lists.

A higher rating (class) does not always mean a tune that has more notes, difficult rhythms, difficult key signatures, or extended range of the instruments needed to perform.

Irish Tune From County Derry by Grainger/Rogers has long been classified a class A piece for SCSBOA Festival. Does the piece include rhythms, meters or key signatures that are difficult? Absolutely not... However, the scoring (use of voices), exposure to individual lines/voices and the range of some voices including upper clarinets and 1st horn deem the tune to be of a level of an "A" group to perform well. Also, the use of suspended chords and color tones calls for intonation of the highest level.

Many years of careful evaluation by professional, military, university, college, and school music conductors through out the United States has "placed" most band and orchestra literature into various "classes" for lack of a better term.

Young music teachers with less experience use their state or region music lists as a guide for music selection based on the ability and/or needs of their ensembles. Music lists are looked upon by most as a "guide" for directors and not always the final "end all or be all" for everyone.

Most music teachers choose to play literature of musical worth and of long lasting intrensic value for their students as well as themselves. I know of no music teacher that likes to rehearse poorly written music for weeks or even days on end... it wears on our ears very quickly. (various arrangers/composers come to mind at this time...)

Hope this helps stir some thought and interest...

vore

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 5:22 pm 
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thanks for the link, vore, and for the explanation jcys

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