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Klarinet Archive - Posting 001051.txt from 2000/04

From: "Dee D. Hays" <>
Subj: [kl] Challenging in high school bands (was Re: [kl] Community Bands)
Date: Tue, 25 Apr 2000 19:10:41 -0400

----- Original Message -----
From: "Ray S. Whitmore" <>
Subject: RE: [kl] Community Bands

> ... [snip]
> I know our local high school band members are encouraged to challenge
> frequently. That must really leads to stability in the section.

The following is my high school experience. This worked well there but I do
not believe it would be appropriate for community bands.

I graduated from high school in Iowa in 1969. Our band did have challenges
but there were rules about how often you could challenge. I believed then
and still believe that the system made our band stronger. Students were
motivated to work hard to move up. They weren't "stuck" in one spot all
year. Top chairs where motivated to work hard to stay there. Note: all
initial auditions and all challenges were "blind" as they were taped without
the band instructor being present. Number and letter codes were assigned to
maintain the anonymity of the players. The director did not know who was
playing until after announcing the results.

The seating arrangement of our band help a lot. Here was the system. The
listing is ranking - seating.

1 - 1st clarinet, 1st chair
2 - 1st clarinet, 2nd chair
3 - 2nd clarinet, 1st chair
4 - 3rd clarinet, 1st chair
5 - 1st clarinet, 3rd chair
6 - 2nd clarinet, 2nd chair
7 - 3rd clarinet, 2nd chair
8 - 1st clarinet, 4th chair (only four people total on first)
9 - 2nd clarinet, 3rd chair
10 - 3rd clarinet, 3rd chair
11 - 2nd clarinet, 4th chair
and so on.

You challenged the next higher ranking player, which was *not* necessarily
the next higher seat. Player number 5 could challenge player number 4. If
he/she won, that person was now ranked number 4 and had to move to 3rd
clarinet, 1st chair. This gave strength on all parts even though the
players might change due to the challenges. Also a student learned that all
parts were important. I believe it also encouraged a more mature attitude,
i.e. that advancement requires sacrifices and that visible status is not
important. Returning to the example of our number 5 player. If he/she
wanted to get to 1st clarinet, 2nd chair, then it was necessary to spend
some time on the third clarinet part and the second clarinet part to get

Granted many students were content to stay with their initial seat or the
seat that they ended up with as a result of someone challenging them.
However there was one young man who had the motivation to work hard and he
went from dead last (there were at least 16 clarinets) to number 3 in a
single school year. He might have just done little or nothing to improve if
he had been stuck with his initial seating.

Dee Hays
Canton, SD

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