Changes to band audition process considered a success

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Nicole Schroeder

Current RBHS students and next year’s freshmen alike worked after school Monday, April 13 for band placement auditions in the 2015-16 Concert Band, Symphonic Band or Wind Ensemble. Unlike last year, this year’s audition process gave students more challenging audition music but held each student’s auditions at the high school they plan to attend in the 2015-16 school year.
Being part of the current Wind Ensemble, junior Allie Rogers said she liked the changes to the audition process in that, this year, every student played the same music, as compared to years past when material was different for those auditioning for Symphonic Band and for Wind Ensemble.
“The music was chosen from district auditions, so it’s kind of a sneak peek for me,” Rogers said. “It’s music that I’ve been working with and I like the challenge. It’s not just something that everybody can play and get away with not practicing and working hard.”
Band director Steve Mathews said that, by requiring students to play all other excerpts along with their required audition materials, it encouraged students to try for higher bands that they would’ve normally believed would be too difficult.
“I think it was a successful change because we had a lot of students that just didn’t think that they would maybe be good enough to play the harder music,” Mathews said. “By pushing everyone to do it, we’re still figuring out the results right now, but it still might push people into a higher band than they thought they could’ve ever made. I think it actually helps those students.”
Freshman Evan Borst agrees with Mathews and said he liked the new audition process more than last year. He said he too believes the new process will allow judges to better compare players to one another and will encourage incoming band students to try for higher band placements within the program.
“[The audition process] is better because people who choose to do concert band only do it because they won’t have to work on as much music,” Borst said. “Now, they work on just as much as everyone else, so they will try to make higher bands.”
Even with the apparent success of the new audition process, however, Rogers said she still liked certain aspects of last year’s system more. She said the new process might make it difficult for some students to determine which band they will play in next year, particularly if they have higher scores than they originally expected to receive.
“I like what they did last year,” Rogers said. “They made sure you had in mind what band you were auditioning for before auditioning for it and kind of placed you accordingly.”
Once every student’s audition scores are tabulated, Mathews said band directors will begin determining next year’s band placements based on the number of points individual students received as compared to average scores within their instrument section.
“We’ll pretty much go just by points. We’ll take the two judge’s scores and average them,” Mathews said. “I don’t always have a set amount of students in the Wind Ensemble or a set amount in Symphonic Band…. As directors, we look for what we call natural breaks in the scoring. So, it’s not like I’m going to take so many clarinetists in the Wind Ensemble and if there’s a tie, we’ll retry. If it’s a tie, then we’ll take an extra clarinet in [Wind Ensemble] or in the Symphonic Band.”
By Nicole Schroeder