Before we can answer the question,"What music is good?"
we must answer the question . . .

"What is the music good for?"

Is the piece of musical value?

The level of aesthetic experience is determined, in large part, by the quality of the music performed.

Is it of educational value?

Consideration must be given to teaching a variety of musical constructs through repertoire. Students should be exposed to a variety of keys, meters, harmonic, and articulation styles, as well as a variety of genres and forms.

Is it of motivational value?

While liking a piece can be a powerful student motivator, it is not the only concern. Students like what they know. They can't like anything else unless they have been led down other paths. Motivation is often the result of association, novelty, or degree of challenge. Just as our diets are enriched by variety, a student's musical experience is enriched by exposure to a varied repertoire. Eating cotton candy once or twice a year is a good thing, but we wouldn't want to have a steady diet of it. Similarly, an excursion to a foreign cuisine is a welcome departure from our normal daily fare.

To what degree does the orchestration allow for musical independence? for individuals? for sections?

Transparent scoring exposes players to error, but it allows for the development of musical independence. While homophonic scoring is much safer, it denies players the opportunity to develop musical independence. As students progress, they need opportunities to exercise their musicianship without relying on the expertise of other players. Having said that, however, there may be occasions where playing a "safely-scored" piece is wise. Never place your students in a situation where they are likely to fail. Success is a wonderful motivator. Success in the face of difficulty (e.g., a good performance of a thinly-scored work) is even better.

What is the level of technical difficulty? for sections? for individuals?

For detailed information on grade levels for wind music, check our page on Criteria for Grade Level Assignments. Be aware that grade levels are guidelines at best. What may be a grade 3 piece for the trumpet section may be a grade 5 piece for the clarinets. A piece may be technically easy, yet musically difficult. Another piece may be musically simple, yet technically difficult. What may be judged difficult for one group (e.g., mixed meters) may not be a challenge to a different group. Judge each piece on its own merits against the standard of your group. Do not limit your ensemble to any one level. A band that plays mostly pieces at a grade 4 level should also play music at the grades 2 and 3 levels early in the year, and explore at least one work from grade 5 by the end of the year.

Does the instrumentation of our group match the instrumentation of the piece? If not, are the problem parts cued? Would it be appropriate to write cues for missing instruments?

For more detail on instrumentation, check our page, Instrument Lists.

What is the audience appeal of the piece? Is audience appeal a consideration in this particular situation?

Band Literature UND Music UND

Last Updated: 1 October 1996