What does the adjudicator want?
The answer is always determined by the quality of the ensemble preparation. Issues’ pertaining to achieving optimal percussion balance (particularly snare & bass drum) is always invariably unknown in differing environments. Conductors are always encouraged to prepare their percussionists with a series of signals for immediate ‘on stage’ alterations. This also empowers our tremendously important section- Our percussionists!!!
Here is a simple ‘short list’ that I abide by at all levels.
- All halls are different so conductors must do their research.
- The players must always attend their rehearsals. Never cancel a rehearsal!
- Percussionists should always take the stage first, as to personalise their needs.
- Listen and look up always. Trust me it works….
- Enjoy the performance, it always helps!
Now for the main criteria:
1. Ensemble Sound
- Blend & Balance: Within & Between the Sections
- The importance of GOOD QUALITY (Best Quality) individual tone to enhance the overall ensemble sound.
2. Accuracy/ Composers Instructions & Intentions
- Dynamics – A full range of dynamics within & between the ensemble.
- Phrasing – Beginning and ENDS of phrases. Breathing together at the beginning of phrases.
- Articulation – Note that these vital instructions are observed
- Correct note values!
3. Repertoire Choice
- ALWAYS highlight the strengths of your Band/ Ensemble
- ALWAYS work to ‘match sounds/ pitch’ within and between the sections
- Individual intonation/ tuning/ correct notes etc….
- Accuracy of intonation within & between the sections
- Getting the notes ‘Off the page’ – make music!
IMPORTANT FACTS – For Young Bands/ Orchestras & Ensembles:
- ENTHUSIASM towards ‘Ensemble Music’
- BLEND OF TONE – Melodic Line instruments with the same lines/ rhythms being presented together with care and deliverance.
- BEST INDIVIDUAL TONES ALWAYS!
- COMPOSERS INTENTIONS & ADDRESSING THE ISSUE OF BALANCE.
James Brice (B. Ed (Music), L. Mus A, A. Mus A.) is Director of Instrumental Performance: Knox Grammar School and Musical Director of the North West Wind Ensemble and Castle Hill RSL Youth Wind Orchestra, Sydney, Australia
Featured image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/asterix/5022471097/ (Creative Commons License)