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Band Difficulty Gradings

Level 1 (Easy)

Band music that has a rating of 1 is for 1st year beginner players, or elementary students. Arrangements have very basic rhythms with restricted ranges. These pieces are for undeveloped playing technique.

Level 1.5 (Easy)

Arrangements still have simple rhythms and ranges and there is plenty of doubling. There is still a lot of uniformity in the rhythms from one instrument to the next.

Level 2 (Easy)

Arranged for 2nd-3rd year players with semi-fluent technique, these pieces have intermediate rhythms with some syncopation, duplet and triplet rhythms. The ranges are less restricted, and some changing meter work is introduced.

Level 2.5 (Easy-Medium)

Geared more toward 3rd year players, these pieces require a more fluent technique. Rhythms vary more as do the ranges that will be played. Changing meters may also be more frequent.

Level 3 (Medium)

Fourth year players, or junior high-level students may require these arrangements to be properly challenged. These generally have free use of syncopation as well as section and solo scoring. Cues and cross cues will also be used less.

Level 3.5 (Medium)

The more advanced 4th year players and some 5th year players will find this level to be more suitable to their playing technique with some extreme ranges being used.

Level 4 (Medium)

A level 4 difficulty rating brings very challenging rhythms to the piece. Syncopation will be freely used, as will the more extreme ranges for all instruments.

Level 4.5 (Medium-Hard)

Taking full advantage of syncopation and solos, this difficulty rating is recommended for students in the 6th year of playing, or reasonably advanced ensembles.

Level 5 (Hard)

Arrangements with a difficulty 5 begin to introduce polyrhythm’s and asymmetrical meters. Changing meters are much more frequent and instrumentation may be more diverse, and include piano, harp, or unusual instruments.

Level 5.5 (Hard)

Solo writing, non-metric notation, more polyrhythm’s, and virtuoso writing throughout are sure signs of the arrangement having a difficulty of 5.5. This music is recommended for more advanced ensembles.

Level 6 (Hard)

Pieces that have a rating of 6 are for college-level or professional grade players. These arrangements are extremely difficult in all phases of the performance.

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