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WIND SYMPHONY

 

Wind Symphony is the most advanced performing band at John North HS. Instrumentation is not limited to a select few advanced students, but instead can accommodate a large portion of the advanced students in the band program.

 

However, despite the ability to accommodate most advanced members, the Wind SYmphony has been smaller in the last few years and is almost a true wind ensemble (one on a part). This is due to several factors; higher qualification standards, the "IB Music Effect", performance demands and time commitments.

 

 

Staffing the Wind Symphony for 2018-19

 

Staffing the position has become much more complicated since 2015. Below are items taken in to consideration when staffing the ensemble. This has evolved over the last three years to include a number of factors. Ultimately, It doesn't matter what students say they are going to do if they make it into the Wind Symphony; it only matters what they have already demonstrated.

 

 

Qualifying

 

In the past, there have been several ways to qualify for the Wind Symphony, but with the addition of IB Music in 2009, the standards for performance and qualifying changed. IB Music is a college level curriculum that requires sending recordings internationally for adjudication where the emphasis on elements of performance are different.

 

The "IB Music Effect"

  1. Artistic standards are increased over the technical proficiency of the individual members, which is the reason musicianship was integrated into the proficiency check off system in 2015.
  2. Technical proficiency cannot be below the international standard for a high school ensemble (not below grade 4) which requires a different skill set to move into the class (see below).
  3. Recordings have to be made throughout the year meaning the minimum standard has to be reached during marching season and December to start the recoding process - much sooner than previous years.
  4. Rehearsal Standards: There is a limited amount of time for students to acclimate to the pace of the class and rehearse, which limits some students with "large personalities" from participating.

 

1. Artistry

 

This is the single most difficult item for many students to grasp. However, the concepts of tone, intonation, dynamics, and stylistic articulation have been built into ALL of the proficiencies and grading rubrics. The musical standard is constantly emphasized and assessed giving students the tools needed to succeed.

 

However, some students don't grasp the musical side of performing as easily as they grasp the technical side. Proficiency (technique) can no longer be the sole qualifier for membership in the Wind Symphony.

 

Elements of Music Artistry:

  • Consistent characteristic tone production
  • Intonation - The ability to match pitch, adjust the instrument correctly, and to play in tune and make adjustments throughout a performance daily
  • Dynamics - Using a full range of dynamic contrast in relation to the other elements of the ensemble, performing written dynamic levels, and playing line dynamics within the phrasing of your parts
  • Articulation creates style, and students must consitently observe and perform correct articulation as written or defined

Most of the items above are achievable in short increments, but for Wind Symphony members, they are needed all the time. The ability to rehearse and perform with musicianship is difficult for many students, but not impossible. For most, its really a personal decision be disciplined enough to be consistently outstanding.

 

2. Proficiencies

 

The number of proficiencies checked off indicates a level of technical proficiency for the level of literature performed. However, musicianship was built into the proficiency check off system in 2016 requiring a higher level of musicality than in previous years.

 

Students that assume they only have to check off more than another student to "beat them" to earn a seat no longer qualify. The instrumentation fluctuates based on the number of students that qualify. In some cases, a section will not be fully staffed, or may not be in the ensemble at all. In 2017-18 there were no bari saxophones in the Wind Symphony. As saxophone positions were offered, none of the saxophone students were willing to switch from alto to play bari since none of the current bari saxophone players had met the minimum standard. As a result, several students that qualified were not in the ensemble because they were not willing to play tenor or bari saxophone.

 

 

3. Recordings

 

IBO (International Baccalaureate Organization) requires the Wind Symphony and Chamber Choir to submit recordings to be graded. The recordings must include a variety of literature, and the average level of that literature cannot fall below the minimum standard for U.S. schools. Students have to be able to achieve that level in order to play in the class and/or on recordings.

 

 

4. Rehearsal Standards

 

The Wind Symphony has to reach its performance standard before the other two concert bands. This means that students who don't rehearse well must be left out in favor of students that show the discipline to achieve the standard quickly. The Wind Symphony staffing does not favor students who do the following things:

 

  • Lose their music
  • Break their instruments
  • Forget to bring their instruments
  • Unwilling to maintain their instruments
  • Does not learn their music
  • Demonstrates limited sight reading ability
    • Tone
    • Ensemble balance
    • Rhythm
    • Continuous playing (no stopping)
  • Have bad reeds or old reeds
  • Self deprecating behavior
  • Unwilling to communicate schedules and that may be over committed to other activities
  • Secretly try to use their phone in class
  • Absent often
  • Argumentative
  • Unwilling to notate in music
  • Unwilling to play as directed
  • Always have an excuse
  • Tardiness to classes and performances
  • Joke makers (there is a time and a place)
  • Talkers
  • "Drama"
  • Students who are always behind others' progress
  • Play past cut offs
  • Stop and have to start over
  • Require extra attention (cannot solve their own problems)
  • Wait for others to do tasks first

 

The Wind Symphony has to excel quickly. There is very little time to coddle members and wait for compliance. It doesn't matter what students say they are going to do if they make it into the Wind Symphony; it only matters what they have already demonstrated.

 

 

Skills Ranked?

 

If all the information above had to be ranked in importance, it MAY look like this:

  • Tone
  • Intonation
  • Rehearsal Standards
  • Proficiencies
  • The rest can be taught to enthusiastic individuals

 

       
       

 

 

 

Instrumentation is not limited (and) can accommodate a large portion of the advanced students in the band program.

________________

 

The "IB Effect"

Artistic standards are increased over the technical proficiency of the individual members

________________

 

Proficiency (technique) can no longer be the sole qualifier for membership in the Wind Symphony.

________________

 

The ability to rehearse and perform with musicianship is difficult for many students, but not impossible... it's really a personal decision...

________________

 

It doesn't matter what students say they are going to do if they make it into the Wind Symphony; it only matters what they have already demonstrated.


 

 

 

 

     
     
     

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