The purpose of this study was to identify areas of agreement and disagreement
between concert band music publisher difficulty grading systems and the perceptions of the band directors who program concert band music. Because no standard difficulty stratification for concert band music exists among publishers, band directors must rely on personal interpretations of diverse grading systems. This may complicate their programming and curriculum decisions. In the study, two questions were addressed: (a) Does a discrepancy exist between performance difficulty levels assigned to literature through publishers’ grading systems and concert band directors’ perceptions of this music’s difficulty level? (b) What criteria do concert band directors use to select music that is at an appropriate performance difficulty level for their concert bands? A sampling of 168 band directors from U.S. schools at the elementary through college levels completed a researcher-designed survey that focused on methods of selecting level- appropriate band literature. They reviewed excerpts from 10 published concert band pieces with a publishers’ difficulty level rated from Grade 1 (least difficult) to Grade 6 (most difficult), and offered their perceptions regarding each piece’s performance difficulty. Ratings were compared with publishers’ assigned difficulty levels. The degree of accord and discord between directors’ judgments and publishers’ grades were determined and discussed. The results of this study provide a better understanding of the relationship between publishers’ grading systems and concert band directors’ perceptions of musical difficulty levels. This understanding may assist instrumental music educators with the difficult and important task of band music selection and curriculum planning.

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Mark Lortz Dissertation Final

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