Friday, November 27, 2009

Chaminade too challenging for Honor Band audition?

As a flute teacher, I have a novice flute student who wants to audition for Honour Band (ie: "All state", "All-city", regional best high school band) and the required piece is the first page of Chaminade's Concertino. How should I proceed?

The above question came up on one of the flute discussion groups this week, and several people questioned why the audition piece would be so difficult. See below for my personal take on it.
Also, having fun with coloured pens I created a quick (2.3MB pdf) overview of the first page of the Chaminade, showing the flute skills required, so that the teacher can show the student/parent/band-director how to lay the foundation for the skills that will eventually allow Chaminade to be played well.

See skill sheet for Chaminade Concertino first page HERE.

And here is my take on it:

Dear Band Audition discussers,

By choosing a difficult piece of music the audition committee can quickly eliminate 90% of the auditioners (and speed up the process of auditioning what could be hundreds of high school players) while still keeping the auditions open to all who wish to try out.

The difficult piece of music will also aid self-elimination among the weaker participants prior to the audition.
The challenge is then passed on to the private flute teacher, who must struggle to prepare those students who will NOT be able to functionally play Chaminade.

It would be easier, perhaps, for the flute teacher to tell the students:
"This Chaminade piece is a level 7 on a scale of 1 to 10, and you're at a level 2. Do you want to work seriously, and take a year to work to get to a level 4 or 5, and then just do the audition just for the experience; using it as a goal?
Or would you prefer to work steadily and easily and maybe do the audition in future years when you *really* are at a level 7?"
Personally, I find that the idea of asking a level 2 high school player to play one page of a level 7 piece causes physical tension and much frustration in the student. It is wasted practise time.

But perhaps this is the only local competition that engages the committment of the local students? If so, why not design a two year prep. course that prepares more beginner level students for NEXT year's auditions?

Perhaps the reality check (above) followed by a discussion on "how to get to level 7 of flute playing" might be of benefit.

The first page of the Chaminade could be written out with notes that explain what each skill is, for clarification of the skills required.

That would be a good way to show the student what to work on in their level 2 pieces. (dynamics, phrasing, high register, counting unusual rhythms etc.)

Comments (2)
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the Chaminade in a fine piece to use for auditions for high school students. You're exactly right--it quickly weeds out the people who wouldn't be able to play at the level of the ensemble. I think the problem with an easier audition piece is that someone at a lower skill level may be accepted based on their performance in the audition, but may be incapable of performing the required music in the ensemble.

Sunday, November 29, 2009 7:54:00 AM

Anonymous Elizabeth Miranda said...

Thanks for the blank fingering charts Jennifer! Elizabeth Miranda Monterey Peninsula CA U.S.A.

Sunday, November 29, 2009 12:01:00 PM


Post a Comment