Was wondering how other Marching Band directors handle chair challenges between 2 players. As I've always been taught that the challenger chooses a familiar song piece, they're given a week of self practice (no help), and then the director tests them on the same day at the end of the week. At times(but Rarely) testing in front of the entire band, but most other times in office, usually with his back turned while recording to have an unbiased based opinion.Is this the way its handled in most if not all Marching Bands?

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    I'm pretty confident this is entirely down to the band director, but I may be wrong.
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Commented Oct 8, 2018 at 21:42
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    As the good doctor says, the director will have the say - and it's about far more than being able to deliver a piece they've just learned. And how come a marching band needs chairs..?
    – Tim
    Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 6:48
  • Can you think of a way of not having to turn your back? I appreciate the need to do a blind comparison - but trying to listen intently to a performance going on behind you is hard. Could you adopt the British Brass Band idea of having the adjudicators in an acoustically transparent tent so they can't see the performers? The other criteria you list seem sensible. Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 12:01
  • Actually, with a marching band, visual is pretty important too. I watched one the other day - what a miserable lot. 1st chair could have been taken by a lesser player who looked like he actually wanted to be there, and was enjoying himself. Could be/ should be the same in any band?
    – Tim
    Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 16:11
  • Advanced preparation is kind of a cop-out. The challenge should happen on the same day it’s initiated. The challenger needs to plan ahead and be ready to act after the challenge. They should not get to choose their own piece. It should be the hardest marching band rep. Both players play the exact same passage in front of the band (marching bands play in front of crowds). They should be recorded. Band director decides right then and there. If challenger is nervous they shouldn’t be challenging to move up. If the director can’t decide then they don’t have the ears and it doesn’t matter anyway. Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 11:08

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In my opinion, allowing either person to select the piece opens the door to blatant cheating (pre-preparation). Far better to have the director select a piece at random. (As a possible alternative, specify a permanent set of, say, four pieces for each instrument that will always be used for challenges, so that every member can be properly prepared. )

I do wonder why you are being specific about marching bands, as chair challenges can take place in any large ensemble, and the protocols for a fair audition process should be the same.

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