NHS offers two levels of instrumental ensembles, all of which are open to students in grades 9-12. Two of them are open to students of all ability and experience levels (Symphonic Band and Jazz Workshop). Two of them are advanced ensembles (Wind Ensemble and Jazz Ensemble) that prepare more challenging repertoire, targeted towards more experienced students.
This format allows us to better tailor repertoire and lesson plans to the needs of our students. With leveled ensembles, we can offer a stronger challenge to our advanced students and prepare them more thoroughly for future study. We can also more adequately address skill-building with our younger students, while allowing them the opportunity to take on leadership roles earlier in high school.
There are two ways to earn recommendation for enrollment in the Wind Ensemble and Jazz Ensemble:
- Director recommendation only: This applies to students with whose performing skills the director is already well aware–primarily NHS students, who already perform on a daily basis for the director, but occasionally incoming freshmen who have received the strong recommendation of their middle school director. This is very similar to other subjects, in which the teacher offers a recommendation for a student to enroll in an AP, Honors or CP course based on previous performance.
- Recommendation by audition: This applies to students to whose skills the director has had little or no prior exposure–primarily incoming freshmen, transfer students or students who have taken a year or more off from performing with NHS ensembles. Students may audition up until the beginning of the school year, but are strongly encouraged to do so as early as possible in the spring semester, before the spring course enrollment period. Contact Mr. O’Briant with any questions or to set up an audition.
- Wind Ensemble. Students should prepare two excerpts or pieces of contrasting styles–one to show technical skill and one to highlight tone quality and musicality. All students will also be required to sight read music provided at the audition. Contact Mr. O’Briant or Mrs. Running if you need help acquiring or preparing these materials.
- Jazz Ensemble. All horns, guitars, piano and bass players will audition on Yardbird Suite from Aebersold Vol. 6 (All Bird) (bass walking only), as well as improvisation (horns, guitar and piano) over a track of the student’s choice from Aebersold Vol. 2 (Nothin’ but Blues). Drummers will be asked to demonstrate the ability to keep time in basic swing, rock and latin styles, to play basic one-bar fills in each of these styles and to alternate between four-bar phrases of time-keeping and soloing in swing style. All students will also be required to sight read music provided at the audition. Contact Mr. O’Briant if you need help acquiring or preparing these materials.