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First chair to sixth chair clarinet in one challenge


stepay

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Never having been a high school band guy, I don't understand the rules of challenges (hence my question at the end of all this), but apparently today (my daughter called my wife during lunch) my freshman daughter went from first chair clarinet to sixth chair.

 

I don't have all the details yet, but the girl in 3rd chair moved to first chair, the kid at 6th chair moved to 3rd chair, and my daughter moved from 1st to 6th. The kids at 2nd, 4th, and 5th weren't involved in challenges and so they stayed where they were.

 

This isn't the end of the world for her, but she's not happy; she will have to play the 2nd part, and that's boring for her. She and I talked before the first challenge (the one that landed her #1 initially), and we envisioned that the girl who is NOW 1st chair had a very good shot at that, because she wants to be a professional musician and takes lessons outside of school and she is really really good. My daughter outplayed her that day, but apparently not today; apparently didn't outplay the former 6th chair either. I guess that's a little surprising, but this is an award-winning band with a lot of serious talent.

 

My daughter doesn't want to be a professional musician, but she's a high achiever (straight A+s last time, all in advanced classes, never had a B since grades were assigned, varsity cross country runner, etc.), so this will bother her. Quite honestly, this is perhaps the first achievement setback for her ever. It's probably a good character-building thing for her. I can't say it's a lesson, because she didn't lose due to not being prepared...she practices a lot at home, gets great feedback from the band teacher; just wasn't her day apparently.

 

Anyway, just out of curiosity, do challenges typically work the way I described? Does a 6th chair typically get to challenge a 1st chair, and do other chairs just get to stay where they are if they aren't challenged?

 

I don't have a sense that things aren't unfair or anything (if you get beaten, you get beaten)...just doesn't seem like the way I would have thought they work.

 

Please enlighten me.

 

Thanks!

Steve (Stevie Ray)

"Do the chickens have large talons?"

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Anyway, just out of curiosity, do challenges typically work the way I described? Does a 6th chair typically get to challenge a 1st chair, and do other chairs just get to stay where they are if they aren't challenged?

 

 

They can, and apparently did.

 

I went through many, and have been hired to judge them. Basically, it's all up to the teacher. I think the greatest lesson one can learn from many challenges is that life isn't always fair, and one needs to be able to cope with that.

 

The best kid doesn't always win, that's a fact. Personality, looks, likability, who worked harder (regardless of who sounded better)- all that factors in. Sometimes teachers "teach a lesson" :rolleyes: to good players that they think are slacking off. Sometimes, an older kid might sit in front of a younger one to "be nice". Sometimes the teacher is just a total idiot. :laugh:

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Anyway, just out of curiosity, do challenges typically work the way I described? Does a 6th chair typically get to challenge a 1st chair, and do other chairs just get to stay where they are if they aren't challenged?

 

 

They can, and apparently did.

 

I went through many, and have been hired to judge them. Basically, it's all up to the teacher. I think the greatest lesson one can learn from many challenges is that life isn't always fair, and one needs to be able to cope with that.

 

The best kid doesn't always win, that's a fact. Personality, looks, likability, who worked harder (regardless of who sounded better)- all that factors in. Sometimes teachers "teach a lesson" :rolleyes: to good players that they think are slacking off. Sometimes, an older kid might sit in front of a younger one to "be nice". Sometimes the teacher is just a total idiot. :laugh:

 

Well, I'm not searching for some sort of unfairness here. I think the band director is great actually, and when they do the challenges, it is done sight unseen so the judges do not know who is playing...they just hear the clarinets and judge based on what they hear.

Steve (Stevie Ray)

"Do the chickens have large talons?"

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Well, I'm not searching for some sort of unfairness here. I think the band director is great actually, and when they do the challenges, it is done sight unseen so the judges do not know who is playing...they just hear the clarinets and judge based on what they hear.

 

I don't doubt the veracity of her bandleader, I'm just adding my experiences: I've been on over 100 committees for pro orchs, and auditions are done behind a screen. We usually knew who it was. :laugh:

 

Stepay, the answer to your specific question is that challenges can work any way the teacher wants them to. They are notoriously unfair, regardless of the veracity of the teacher. It's usually the method. In her case, she had to jump down while others did not. That's unfair. The teacher probably never thought about how unfair that is, it's probably just easier for them that way.

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I've heard of the methodology for these "challenges" being all over the map, so like Cygnus said, it's largely up to the band director. My good friends daughter was recently challenged for 1st Cello in her school's orchestra, however she retained her chair (but the challenge was carried out much like you described).

 

Worst case, it might push your daughter to practice a little harder to make sure something like his doesn't happen again. Then again, it's also a good life lesson, since there's ALWAYS someone out there who can outplay you on a head to head basis.

 

Sadly, we're raising a generation of children that at a very early age are being given "false" lessons about competition, and winning v. losing. I have many friends with young kids in soccer or other sports, where "no score" is kept, or competitions where everyone gets a "ribbon or trophy". Life simply isn't like that and there ARE winners and losers. Losing is a great way to learn respect, humility and can be the impetus for improvement.

 

Anyway, sounds like your daughter has it pretty together in the other areas of her school life, so this might just be a minor blip. She'll likely shake it off and move on. You've got the right idea to treat it as a "character building" event.

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Well, I'm not searching for some sort of unfairness here. I think the band director is great actually, and when they do the challenges, it is done sight unseen so the judges do not know who is playing...they just hear the clarinets and judge based on what they hear.

 

Stepay, the answer to your specific question is that challenges can work any way the teacher wants them to.

 

This is what I was getting at and what I suspected, but I have no knowledge here and wanted someone to tell me how it is. Thanks.

Steve (Stevie Ray)

"Do the chickens have large talons?"

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She'll likely shake it off and move on. You've got the right idea to treat it as a "character building" event.

 

Yeah, in a way it's good that she's experiencing this. At a minimum she can now empathize with others who suffer a setback, and at a maximum, the victories she will have in the future (in any area of her life) will be all the more sweet.

Steve (Stevie Ray)

"Do the chickens have large talons?"

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She'll likely shake it off and move on. You've got the right idea to treat it as a "character building" event.

 

Yeah, in a way it's good that she's experiencing this. At a minimum she can now empathize with others who suffer a setback, and at a maximum, the victories she will have in the future (in any area of her life) will be all the more sweet.

 

In my jaded, cynical music biz vernacular, she'll always learn that one can win and still lose. :mad: She can probably kick chair 5's ass, yet she is sitting behind that person.

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As a pianist I was never subject to an official challenge process, but studio classes were every bit the functional equivalent. Everybody playing for everybody else in the studio every four weeks quickly taught you about getting "ranked" by your peers.

 

I ultimately married a bassoonist who was part of the official Interlochen orchestra challenge process (back in the 70s), and she loved it. She worked her butt off to hold her chair, and if somebody knocked her off you could be sure that she'd be gunning to get it back (she usually did).

 

Larry.

 

RIP Gayle, you were the best there was.

 

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Cygnus- I didn't have time to check out your links yet, so apologies if this is already answered...

 

Being pretty ignorant to this world, ya got my curiosity raised. Is this how it works in pro orchestras? Can some newbie kid outta college that just auditioned into an orchestra challenge the 1st chair violinist that's been playing professionally for 30+ years? If so I'd imagine that musicians in orchestras don't necessarily like each other much.... but I guess they'd keep each other on their toes.

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Being pretty ignorant to this world, ya got my curiosity raised. Is this how it works in pro orchestras? Can some newbie kid outta college that just auditioned into an orchestra challenge the 1st chair violinist that's been playing professionally for 30+ years?

No. If a player sitting second violin 5th chair retires, that's where the opening is. If you win, that's your seat unless someone from higher up eventually leaves, in which case you would have to audition again (or possibly be appointed). Many string sections rotate (except for the principals). That's the smart way: it's a lot harder to play in the back than it is up front, it's harder to hear back there.

 

The audition process of getting in can be very crooked. The classical biz is so small that there's 1 degree of separation between everyone, so there's a whole lotta politics involved.

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When I played trombone in band in middle school, the band director kept me out of first chair. I'd been playing piano for 7 or 8 years by that point, so I sight read all the chair tests and outplayed all the other guys in my section. The thing is, the band director knew I was sight reading and that the other guys had actually taken their horns home and practiced for the tests. I had the talent, but they did the work so they were justly rewarded.
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but they did the work so they were justly rewarded.

To me, they were unfairly rewarded. It's about who plays the best, regardless of anything else.

 

This happens all the time in the pro world at auditions: committee people say things like "He's too much of a hot shot" or " I think Joe has the most potential". Translation: "I want my wife to have the job so I'm gonna talk trash about the clearly better player". Drives me nuts.

 

Teachers should specify the rules in advance, i.e. "The audition will be based on both the playing of the player on that day and his/her practicing throughout the semester" or something like that.

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All school band leaders and sports coaches have their lineups to juggle, and what they believe is fair usually doesn't sit well with parents who believe their kid is a special case, more gifted, worked harder, deserves it, or whatever.

 

In the big picture, the world doesn't work like that, and it's a better lesson to learn when they're young. If you teach them not to take these things personally, they'll be far better equipped to take life's real inequities later on.

 

 

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First clarinet is squeeky and shrill anyway. I stayed at 2nd because of this... ;)

 

I circumvented the whole process by switching to bass clarinet ;) I actually played in a couple of state bands and got a trip to Kansas City out of it. I would have never been able to do anything like that had I stayed on clarinet.

 

Cygnus 64 I love reading your comments on subjects like this. Your insights into a world I know nothing about are amazing.

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but they did the work so they were justly rewarded.

To me, they were unfairly rewarded. It's about who plays the best, regardless of anything else.

Eh, it was middle school. He was probably trying to teach me a lesson to work hard at it even if I was capable/talented/whatever. If I actually dug the trombone that might have happened.... ;)
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My worst high school audition story: I audition for the all-state orch, I'm told I am in a 4-way tie for first chair (there are 4 regions). The tie-breaker runoff is at the same time as the first rehearsal, so at 7:30 rehearsal starts but us 4 are in a separate room playing for 2 judges. One of the judges is one of the player's high school teacher. :rolleyes::rolleyes:

 

I play best, hands down. I know it, everyone knows it. One of the judges (The aforementioned teacher) says "David, you were rushing" or something. I had no idea what he was talking about but I know he's lying. Anyhoo, I get chair 2. We go back into the rehearsal. There are programs on the music stands, they were printed the night before. I'm in it.......... as chair 2. :facepalm:

 

That was probably the biggest learning experience in my life, especially as it applies to music. Sometimes you just can't beat the political system, I see it every day in the pro world.

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My high school band program had two concert bands, and in the smaller, higher-level ensemble the director would place students as needed to get a good-sounding section and ensemble. All players might be found playing 1st, 2nd, or 3rd part from one piece to another depending on their individual strengths and weaknesses as players, the needs of the piece, and the needs of the developing musicians. I was usually happiest on 2nd or 3rd Cl., and learned a lot about ensemble playing playing those inner parts (although I haven't picked up a clarinet in 12 years).
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My experience with HS chairs was the Director just assigned parts based upon what he knew about us. I can't imagine why the Director would want to put up with all the drama of teenagers challenging on a whim.
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Band leaders and sports coaches all have their lineups to juggle, and what they believe is fair usually doesn't sit well with parents who all believe their kid is a special case, more gifted, worked harder, deserves it, or whatever.

 

In the big picture, the world doesn't work like that, and it's a better lesson to learn when they're young. If you teach them not to take these things personally, they'll be far better equipped to take life's real inequities later on.

 

This is why I've always liked Cross Country and Track...there's no subjectivity...if you cross the line first, you win and that's that.

Steve (Stevie Ray)

"Do the chickens have large talons?"

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My experience with HS chairs was the Director just assigned parts based upon what he knew about us. I can't imagine why the Director would want to put up with all the drama of teenagers challenging on a whim.

 

In the case of my daughter's band, they can't challenge on a whim...there are specific times for challenges to occur...the reason being that if you get 1st chair or whatever, you get to at least perform a concert in that chair before it can be wrested away from you.

Steve (Stevie Ray)

"Do the chickens have large talons?"

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"Part" denotes which part in the score one is playing - 1st Clarinet, 2nd Clarinet, etc. "Chair" denotes your "rank" on that part.

Usually there are no more than 3 parts for Clarinet in a band - 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Clarinet. On each part there may be 1st chair, 2nd chair, 3rd chair, 9th chair etc.

If you're playing 1st Chair, 1st clarinet, then you're the top dog. You get the solos (if there are any). Otherwise, you just get bragging rights.

In my bands, one cannot challenge more than 1 part higher. So, the person in 4th chair, on the 3rd Clarinet part cannot challenge the 1/1. No student goes from 3rd to 1st. However, a 1st Flute, 4th Chair can challenge to be the "top flute."

If one is a pretty good 2nd Clarinet (regardless of chair) and wishes to challenge to play 1st Clarinet, one can do so. However, the challenge must be announced ahead of time, and cannot be at a point where we've prepared for a performance and parts are learned. A weekend or a few week days are given for both to prepare (no "ambushes"). Usually challenges happen at the beginning of the year, or right after our Holiday Concert.

I judge the challenges. I do so on musicality, technique, preparation, and dedication to the band. So, it's NOT solely based on who plays the part better. We ARE dealing with high school students here - attendance, grades in other classes (academic eligibility for out-of-school events), reliability, citizenship... they all factor in. However, I do not play favorites (and any teacher who does should be summarily fired).

 

 

Muzikteechur is Lonnie, in Kittery, Maine.

 

HS music teacher: Concert Band, Marching Band, Jazz Band, Chorus, Music Theory, AP Music Theory, History of Rock, Musical Theatre, Piano, Guitar, Drama.

 

 

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My experience with HS chairs was the Director just assigned parts based upon what he knew about us. I can't imagine why the Director would want to put up with all the drama of teenagers challenging on a whim.

 

That's basically how it is - challenges are pretty rare. As I stated in my other post, I don't let them happen just anytime, otherwise I'd be doing nothing but listening to challenges!

However, even though I know my players pretty well, challenges are an outlet for those who feel they should be playing a more difficult (or more prestigious) part.

Muzikteechur is Lonnie, in Kittery, Maine.

 

HS music teacher: Concert Band, Marching Band, Jazz Band, Chorus, Music Theory, AP Music Theory, History of Rock, Musical Theatre, Piano, Guitar, Drama.

 

 

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I judge the challenges. I do so on musicality, technique, preparation, and dedication to the band. So, it's solely based on who plays the part better.

 

 

Not really, according to what you just said. Dedication to the band is not about playing (but of course extremely important). I have no objection to doing it that way, my reaction is more based on how this all translates to life in the adult world. In racing, the first guy across the line who doesn't cheat is the winner. In music, the best player doesn't always win.

 

I admit that I probably come from a different angle: I knew that I would be a pro musician when I was 10. If I was 600th chair in gym class, I wouldn't have even noticed. :laugh:

 

I had a spelling Bee in 4th grade, I won. The teacher liked someone else, and they got to go to the next level. That's wrong, it's crappy. If it were to be explained that the "winner" would be based on other stuff blah blah, that's one thing. It wasn't. Thank God I grew up to be a completely normal, functional, well-grounded adult. :D

 

 

 

 

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When I was in HS we had a fierce 3 way competition for trumpet first chair. I had two buddies that were as competitive as I was, so the top spot changed fairly often.

 

My band teacher partially solved that problem by pulling me aside at the beginning of marching season my junior year, and whining about how he didn't have enough tubas for marching band, and would I pick up sousaphone "just for marching season".

 

I did, but of course got relegated to tuba for concert season as well. oom pah oom pah oom pah oom pah pah pah...

 

I solved THAT problem by quitting band for my senior year...

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When I played trombone in band in middle school, the band director kept me out of first chair. I'd been playing piano for 7 or 8 years by that point, so I sight read all the chair tests and outplayed all the other guys in my section. The thing is, the band director knew I was sight reading and that the other guys had actually taken their horns home and practiced for the tests. I had the talent, but they did the work so they were justly rewarded.

 

That's exactly what happened to me in band, too. Except I played alto sax. I never got first chair because I never practiced and the band director knew that. But I was much better than everyone else in the section, including the first chair. She even said to me once "I don't know why I'm first chair and you're not. You're so much better than me."

 

Funny shit.

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