All State Band Auditions

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    During All-State, there was a band director meeting to discuss a variety of issues and proposals related to band. One of the proposals was changing the major scale procedure for the All-State auditions.

    The proposal was to change the major scales to be performed from being drawn randomly on site by each student to being drawn by the Band VP one week prior to the audition. At that point, the directors would be informed of the selected scales, and all students state wide would perform the same two scales.

    When brought before the WMEA board, there was concern that band directors who would have an interest in discussing this topic may not have been at the meeting at All State due to the thought that the meeting was geared only to marching band directors. As a result, I would like to take this opportunity to gather opinions from all parties who may be impacted by this change. Please comment below with your thoughts regarding this change, as well as any questions you may have.

    Thanks for your time and input!

    Brian Redmond
    Band VP
    Rock Springs High School


    Richard Parmer

    I am a former public school band director (33 years) and a current music instructor at Northwest College in Poowell. I feel that only having to work on two scales in the course of a week would contribute to the “dumbing down” of the audition process,and the performance education process. Scales are a part of the instrumental technique that students use in their performances. Let’s not remove the technical aspect from their education.

    Scales should be memorized for the same reasons. Their prepared pieces already demonstrates the ability to read and prepare selections. Perhaps we should require all twelve major scales, one octave, performed in a specified order (chromatic tonic, circle of fifths. . .).

    Rick Parmer
    Low brass instructor
    Northwest College, Powell, Wyoming



    I have to say I am disappointed on how this is going down.

    My thoughts are we voted on this and it passed. There were emails sent out saying we would have a band director meeting, not just a marching band meeting. If you chose not to be there and you are not happy then you can make a proposal the next year.

    I believe all students playing the same instrument should play the same scales in the audition. (trumpets play B and F, saxes play G and Db depending on what the VP draws for the various instruments) It’s the only way to make it fair for all students that audition. I can not speak for all State Bands but I know in AZ all instruments have scales selected (different scales for different instruments) the day of the audition and play the same scales in their audition.

    Gino Hernandez
    South HS


    Kimberly Miller

    I am very happy to have the scale pre-determined the week prior to auditions. It puts everyone on the same playing field and ensures everyone has exactly the same audition.



    I agree with Kimberly Miller.


    Richard Zigweid

    I was not able to participate in the meeting at All-State because of a family emergency, or I would absolutely have been at the meeting. I’ll put my 2 cents in for what it’s worth.

    I think that learning all 12 scales keeps many good players from going through with the audition. However, I think that learning all 12 is a huge educational benefit. However, with the way that we have the auditions currently, I believe the band audition is more rigorous and much more stressful for the students than the choir or orchestra auditions. The orchestra only has 2 scale excerpts.
    I think that because of the uncertainty and pressure of the scales, many students choose what they feel is an easier audition in choir.
    I agree that it would be more fair to have everyone on the same instrument playing the same scales.
    I think that if we chose the scales a week beforehand, many students wouldn’t practice any scales until they came out, and I don’t think that’s educationally sound.
    I’m in favor of having them play 6-8 of them for the audition-like from G concert to Db concert. This takes all of the guesswork and chance out of the process but still makes them learn at least the scales that are often encountered in band literature.

    Richard Zigweid
    Torrington HS


    John Fabela

    It’s my belief that learning scales is an important part of becoming proficient on an instrument. Will the All-State Band repertoire be in the keys of Concert Bb, Eb and F exclusively? If the decision is to make the audition scales pre-determined, then they’d better be memorized. How uncertain are the scales when they get to play them with a scale sheet? I’m ok with having each section play the same scales, but keep it secret until they come in to audition. That way, kids still have to learn all the major scales and you compare apples to apples.
    That’s my two cents worth,

    John Fabela


    Aric Hageman

    I also voted for the change.
    1. How do we pass two of the three proposals if ….”there was concern that band directors who would have an interest in discussing this topic may not have been at the meeting ………………”?
    2. It is not the audition processes job to teach the major scales. That is your job as a teacher.
    3. The band auditions are more difficult than choir and orchestra. How is putting all like instruments on the same playing field dumbing it down?



    I voted for the change.

    1. The session last Jan was labeled as “band interest session”, not marching band. The description of the session said, “This session will review the 2016 marching band festival and get feedback to improve the 2017 festival AS WELL AS OTHER ISSUES PERTINENT TO PUBLIC SCHOOL BANDS IN WYOMING.” That is pretty clear what the session was going to be about. I just want to make sure that the board is allowing the band directors of the state to have their voice (if they choose to show up), serving the educators of Wyoming and not becoming too micro managerial. In your classroom if a kid missed the prep day for a test, you don’t move the test back because that kid didn’t come to class.

    2. I am a HUGE proponent of kids learning all 12 major scales. Personally, that was a big stepping stone for me as a player and I feel it is vital to my students. However, I do not feel that the purpose of the audition is force kids to learn their scales and many kids, who are wonderfully talented musicians, do not audition because of that aspect. As a music educator, if that is a priority in your band, than that is your responsibility to teach.

    3. To use research….. studies show that a valid test is one that does not surprise students. They should know what is going to be on the test if it is going to count towards “the grade” (not be for extra credit or a bonus question). How does keeping the student guessing what scales they are going to draw show us what that student can do as a musician? The sight reading portion of the audition covers that aspect of seeing what they can do in the moment. Scales are about technique and playing within a key. That doesn’t need to be a surprise.



    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!

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 8 months ago by  .

    Aric Hageman

    I would like to play Devil’s Advocate to Chad’s points.

    1. The term “ALL” is impossible to obtain. Some teacher’s schools don’t allow them to come to all state. Some teachers “chose” not to attend that meeting. You can not tell me that when the choir teachers or orchestra teachers have gotten together and discussed all state materials and made a proposal that “ALL” voices were heard.
    2. I am the main reason that we are using the current all state etudes. This came with a lot of hard work and research. I studied many other state all state materials. I also tried to find ways to better utilize the students time. I know that out side of class there is less and less from students. I would also like to point out that the Wind Symphony auditions for All Northwest are now also using this same concept. You can also not prevent ALL students from cramming anything for the audition.
    3. Depth is a huge problem. This year the percussion section was not good. When i did the sectional monday morning there were students that could not play their parts and a couple that switched parts that morning. I believe that we are walking a fine line with the auditions because we all have students that are deserving of being in all state that do not audition.
    4. agreee
    5. Are you serious? jk
    6. I’m with you lets get rid of the scales and keep the chromatic.


    Aric Hageman

    I also just searched for the military band audition materials. no scales…… 🙁


    Misty Curtis

    I vote for the change. I do not care if the scales are told ahead of time but I believe ALL students auditioning on like instruments should perform the SAME scale. They can find out ahead of time or that day however, I think it is extremely unjust to continue the “drawing” format that is done now. We are good teachers and will teach our curriculum regardless of what the audition requires.

    Side note (I was not at the meeting): If a quorum at the meeting was met and a vote was cast then the audition policy should stand as changed so there would need to be a new motion made and a vote to change the policy back.



    Though I agree with the sentiment that All is impossible, it is our responsibility. We handle 90% of the changes to WHSAA policy regarding music. ALL AD’s are present for proposed Sports changes, and we need equal representation. We may need to investigate the best way to do that, and maybe we don’t employ a format currently that would allow that.



    Just to clear up policy practices, the board can adopt any changes proposed by a group of it’s membership. A group of membership cannot create it’s own quorum separate from the executive board, and use that quorum to adopt it’s own policies. As it currently stands, all motions made regarding all-state auditions were approved. Any motion regarding All-State Scales was retracted. Just trying to make sure we are all on the same page. If you would like me to start a separate discussion about board practices and our board manual, I would be more that happy to do so.

    In the mean time, let’s try to focus this discussion involving the current and proposed All-State Scales. I will do so as well.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 8 months ago by  .
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