for New & Returning Students

Many different skills are taken into consideration when determining a student’s ensemble placement. YOBC's approach to ensemble placement is based on the goal of matching a student with the ensemble that will serve him or her best. We strive to place each student in the ensemble that will be sufficiently challenging without going so far as to frustrate or discourage. Determining a student’s placement requires breaking down the required skill sets into two overarching categories: individual technique and ensemble technique. All of the following concepts are taken into consideration.










Pitch identification (sight reading)

Rhythm identification (sight reading)       

General theory knowledge

Musical terms

Ensemble Skills

Pitch matching

Ensemble awareness



Watching the conductor






For Current YOBC Students:

Conductors will engage in ongoing evaluation during the rehearsal process of each spring semester. Because of time and personnel constraints, students should not expect written feedback. Students will be evaluated based upon their technical and interpretive level of performance of current YOBC repertoire, and their contribution to the musical ideals of their ensemble. Each student’s individual preparation of concert music is a critical factor in determining his/her ensemble assignment and advancement. Details about the evaluation process for specific instrument groups can be found using the following links:


String Placement for Current Students

Wind/Percussion Placement for Current Students

Orchestral Placement for Current Winds/Percussion Students



You will find the following information helpful in answering questions frequently asked about placement in YOBC ensembles.

Are YOBC ensembles based on age or ability?

How long will a student stay in each ensemble?

When will ensemble assignments be made?

Can students be promoted during the year if they improve?

What is the right level of challenge for students?

Are YOBC ensembles based on age or ability?

YOBC ensembles are ability-based. Students are assigned to the ensemble that best matches their technical, musical, and ensemble skill set. Students in each ensemble may vary in age by as much as 4-5 years. Assignment to Advanced Division ensembles is made with additional consideration for ensemble balance and instrumentation.


Return to Ensemble Placment Information

How long will a student stay in each ensemble?

Since student placement is based on their demonstrated skills, there is not a specified length of time that they will be assigned to spend in each ensemble. As a general rule, students should expect to spend more than one year each ensemble.

Return to Ensemble Placment Information

When will ensemble assignments be made?

Students will be notified of their ensemble placement for next year after the spring concert, prior to registration.

Return to Ensemble Placment Information

Can students be promoted during the year if they improve?

YOBC’s focus/curriculum is on building the concept of ensemble playing. Therefore, changes to ensemble assignments will not be made during the school year. It is our expectation that each and every student will be improving throughout the season. Therefore, the ensemble itself will also improve and grow musically as the year progresses.

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What is the right level of challenge for students?

The ideal learning environment should offer students a level of challenge that fosters learning. Often students will identify only music containing technical difficulty as challenging. However, the technical challenges of music represent only a small portion of the musical skills students need to master. Repertoire with limited technical challenge will allow the conductor to focus on the important challenges of playing in tune with themselves and other students; playing a phrase musically; playing with a good, clear sound and correct articulation; and building other ensemble skills. Rather than having students wholly concentrating on technical difficulties, pieces with fewer technical demands allow the conductor to better engage students' ears toward tuning, timing, and expression as a unit. Conductors will also select some pieces that provide technical challenge. These pieces are do-able but will require more practice and concentration. Each conductor gives careful attention to choosing repertoire that is challenging on all of these levels, to help maximize student learning.

Return to Ensemble Placment Information