Everyone knows that banddirector.com has the most extensive listing of concert band literature, anywhere in our profession. This is a great tool and everyone should use it when programming. However, the notion on banddirector.com might be viewed as that of "recognition" (read the list and decide) and not "recall". Also, the membership of voters is not defined and there might be a few non-directors voting.
Here, members of MSBandDirector.com are being asked to not just vote on their (unlimited) favorite pieces from a list, but to upload their picks for top 10 pieces that would be brought to conduct groups like an "All-State", "All-County" or "All-District" concert band. These are situations that require a director to bring the finest that they have to offer to the podium. Those pieces should be the top 10, and they may change over time.
The members of MSBandDirector.com will have the ability to update their posts with choices for the best grade 2 concert band literature ever written. Members will need to simply post their favorite top 10 pieces to this forum and the master list will update the Main Page as posts come in.
The value of this data to all of us and our profession is as follows:
1. It is generated by the professionals on the front lines of education.
2. It has value because it is generated by known professionals in the field. This means that subjective data can become a part of the overall picture that these lists provide. This subjective data includes columns for "How a piece translates to the young learner" "Mature Sounding Rating", Emotional/Educational payoff" "Teaches as" and "Student Popularity." Professionals band directors can discuss these important items, as well as all of the standard objective data, where publishers really can not unless they test on middle school students daily.
3. Data will be available for everyone to use and for future generations to make quicker, more informed, choices as to which literature to program.
This is a great process that each middle school band director should go through on their own each time they choose literature. And this process will generate the MSBandDirector preferred literature list for Grade TWO concert literature only.
Further discussion on subjective material.
1. How a piece translates to the young learner. This column will be a 1-10 rating with 10 being the highest rating of translation. All directors have had the experience of listening to a college level group perform MS grade literature and it sounds great. Said piece is purchased, passed out to the young learner and after 9 weeks of work (at their level) the piece is not translating as you had envisioned it to translate. At this point we can discuss why (this is a good discussion for later) but for the collaborative member-generated list, simply rate it.
2. Mature Sounding Rating. Here the data requires you to rate your choices of literature based on their maturity of writing. Does the piece sound like a grade 4 when it is, in fact, a grade 2? Does the piece sound like a melody with drum accompaniment? Is their counterpoint or simple homophony? Are their appropriately voiced advanced harmonics and creative percussion writing? These are some of the things that should factor into this rating. Again 1-10 and 10 is the most mature sounding writing.
3. Emotional/Educational Payoff. This column is designed to rate a piece of distinguished literature by comparing the amount of work required to work-up a piece with the actual emotional content of the piece. In other words, was this piece "worth" the amount of work that your young learners put into it? Is there enough of an emotional pay-off for the work? Again 10 is the highest rating.
4. "Teaches as" refers to how a piece teaches to young learners. This a basic rating of 1-4. Rational here is that a piece can look and act like a grade 1, while, in fact, teaching like a grade 2. Some grade 2 pieces teach like 2's, while some require more work and teach more like 2.5's or 3's. Simply rate what you feel this piece teaches like. For All-District type of events, a director might choose a grade 2 that teaches like a 3 because the notes will be quick-learn and director can concentrate on pulling the emotional content out of the piece... because of the larger emotional payoff. March Slav comes to mind here.
5. Student popularity! We can discuss this because the students certainly are. If directors read the reviews on sheetmusicplus.com, most of them are written by students. I believe that this does factor into the choosing of literature, although not very much. Certain pieces are always hits and become the young learners' favorites. The piece that they really look forward to performing, as opposed to the piece that they are "forced" to perform. Again 10 is the most popular on a 1-10 scale.