Starting in early October, the symphonic band began hosting their auditions for the 2010-2011 school year chair order. Band members will be competing throughout the month to determine their chair positions.
The symphonic band consists of roughly eighty students who make up fifteen different sections of instruments. Each section will meet after school on different days to present a piece of music, chosen by the section leader, to Mr. David Albert. He will ultimately decide the chair positions for the year based on each student’s performance. The number of chairs in each section ranges from as few as one to as many as fifteen.
“There is a lot of competition within each section during these tryouts,” said Jason Nance, tuba section leader and senior. “Even in sections as small as four people.”
The rubric that Mr. Albert uses to score each musician consists of five parts with a final score of fifty points. Those who audition perform a nine or thirteen note chromatic scale, two major scales with arpeggios, a slow piece and a fast piece.
In addition to the numerical score out of ten for each part, the musician can earn up to three pluses or minuses. These pluses and minuses are meant to provide a more accurate score for the musician. For example, a score of eight and three minuses is closer to a score of eight and three pluses than it is to a nine.
Mr. Albert adds up all of these points, pluses and minuses to create the final score. He then establishes the chair order for each section.
“When scoring the auditions, Mr. Albert observes each student with great scrutiny,” said Arik Cain, last chair baritone player. “Although it is a pretty good way of doing it, there is always room for improving the system. For instance, we could all agree on one piece instead of having our section leader choose for us.”
The student with the best score in each section earns the title of section leader and oversees the weekly practices, or sectionals. Musicians who exceed a score of thirty-eight are guaranteed a letter at the end of the year.
“Earning a letter in the [symphonic] band is a very difficult task because you have to be really good in order to score high enough,” said Nance.
Students who are not satisfied with their position can challenge a higher chair to a one-on-one showdown. If the higher chair refuses the challenge, then they must go to the last chair position.
In this way, students have a second chance to place further up in the chair order.
“I got super nervous during my actual tryout and even though I lettered, I know that I can do a lot better,” said Justin Barnes, second chair tuba. “So I am going to challenge myself to become better for future auditions.”