Reply To: All State Band Auditions

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1. In response to the concern that the board may not be serving the educators in Wyoming, I think that is exactly what took place. The concern came from more than one source that not all voices were represented at the January Band Directors Meeting. I signed the WMEA Board Code of Ethics, and I promised to uphold that same code. Taken from that language, though I respect the diversity of opinions as expressed by the board and the band directors present at the meeting, I formally dissented to the action of changing the scales without input from all WHSAA member schools, which is our responsibility as a board.

2. Since the 90’s , I have watched the auditions change from memorized, drawn scales of the player’s full range…later to predetermined 1 and 2 octave scales…later we removed the memorization…now we are letting some of them cram (arguably). I also remember a consortium of band directors being charged with coming up with instrument-specific exercises and etudes that would build stronger players. What rose from that work by our directors around the state were not the instrument-specific exercises and etudes that we were challenged to find. In its place, we were given a “one-size-fits-all” group of etudes where the Xylophone, Euphonium, and Oboe are all playing the same material, rather that material specific to the challenges on their instruments. Has this created better players? If that is not the point, has it encourage more auditions from lesser players?

3. I think the greater issue is the lack of depth in each of the sections, and I’m not sure that a kid that struggles with Concert Db having to play Cb, but being able to focus on it for a week before the audition, is going to narrow the gap between the studied players and those who have not spent enough time preparing the audition. To assume that having all students play B natural will allow the great players to rise to the top would be to assume that there are great players that are being left out. After 6 years of screening trombones, and 15+ years of chair placements, I feel confident telling you that is not the case in the Trombone section.

4. If the purpose of the scale portion is not to separate those that have prepared all 12 major scales from those that have not, why not eliminate the scale portion all together, keeping only the chromatic? I proposed that in ’01, to allow more small school (1A/2A) athletes around the state to audition, since many are in football playoffs and state VB. There was resistance from my friends in 3A/4A schools, believing that the audition needed to have scales to separate the players from the wannabe’s (paraphrase). Now I wonder where those players have gone?

5. If the audition is not there to make certain the All-State Players can play 12 major scales, lets eliminate the scales. That should allow the great players hiding in the closets of our band rooms to come to auditions in droves.

6. Coming full circle, if the idea is to show that the students can apply themselves in all 12 keys, rather than simply reading them (or memorizing them), why did we not adopt the etudes/exercises that came out of the consortium of band directors. If etude 1 and etude 2 cover two keys and the students play a third in the form of a scale they know about all year (not sure I totally adore this concept), then you could cover all 12 keys in 4 years. An affirmative stance (to the negative stance that students would simply memorize them in 6th grade) would be that I will provide employment for the parent, pay for their move, and possibly house the family of each student that memorizes these etudes in 6th grade. They are all welcome in any bands I work with! I agree with Zach’s perspective on the application of the keys, but I’m not sure having them prepare 2 scales the week before will solve that issue.

Great conversations here!

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