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.

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Word document attached.
This is awesome! Thanks so much for posting this list. It is now added to the collaborative list on the main page.


Dietrich Vasquez said:
Word document attached.
These have been added to the list. Thanks for the post. Would you like to venture into the subjective categories? If so, please either message me or post. Can't wait for your analysis of these pieces. This interests me as I have not conducted a couple of your favorites.

Autumn Hassell said:
Ok, I have quite a few more Grade 2s I enjoy... some from being a director and some from my memories of playing in school.

1) Loch Lomond by Black (yes I like a lot of Irish/Scottish pieces... can't help it!)
2) Korean Folk Song Medley by Ployhar
3) Portrait of a Clown by Ticheli
4) Sea Song Fantasy by McGinty
Narrowing the selections seems like quite a challenge. Over the years, what I have tried to do is teach my middle school students about great composers. They already understand this from reading literature. I would like to suggest some composers who I believe have a special ability to consistently write great literature for middle school bands that is both musical, educational, and entertaining. I have played numerous works by these composers for assessments, parades, and everything in between. No matter what the genre is or make up of the band is, the kids always seem to enjoy the music. In no particular order...

John Edmonson
Anne McGinty
James Ployhar
Jerry Nowak
Michael Sweeney
Robert Sheldon
Mike Story
Elliot Del Borgo
Okay, I like Two British Folk Songs by Del Borgo because of the somewhat homogeneous low brass writing. I don't have kids knocking my door down wanting to play trombone and tuba, so I usually can't program music with 3 trombone parts that are separate from the euph.

I assume we are talking contest lit, right?

I believe this is grade 1, but I also like Kenya Contrasts. It seems a bit exposed at times to really be a grade 1, but it is here in La/Tex.

Of course, anything written by Erik Morales is cool!
Thanks for the post. Only contest literature in this section and you might want to add the Kenya Contrasts to the Grade 1 forum as it makes it easier on members to keep track of what they are viewing. Are you saying that Two British Folk Songs is a grade 2 in La/Tex?


I couldn't agree more with Kenya Contrasts. One of my groups is playing that now and they love it. Great piece of music.



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