- Technique, or how well a student can play his or her instrument, is one of the most fundamental criteria for determining ensemble placement. Technique is typically improved by practice at home and by studying with a private teacher. The best way a student can demonstrate his or her technique at YOBC is through careful preparation of the ensemble repertoire, thereby illustrating both the ability to perform challenging repertoire and dedication to the ensemble.
- Ensemble skills, on the other hand, are evaluated during rehearsals all year. Ensemble skills include behavioral attributes such as attentiveness and etiquette as well as musical skills like counting, sight reading, following the conductor, and playing in unison with the rest of the ensemble.
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?
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.
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.
When will ensemble assignments be made?
Students will be notified of their ensemble placement for next year after the spring concert, prior to registration.
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.
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.