Question: Are the bands restricted to any particular type of music, or can they use whatever they wish as long as it falls within the parameters of time usage? And how does music selection impact the judges?
Answer: The one great thing about this activity is the diversity of styles. Bands are free to choose from classical, pop, Broadway, ethnic, Celtic, hip-hop, country, opera, wind ensemble, heavy metal . . . the list is ENDLESS! The one thing that always surprises me as a judge is bands that take a piece of music that has been “played to death” in previous years but present it using a fresh approach. I was fortunate to be on the panel last year at the Florida State Championships. Choctawhatchee HS performed a program the titled ‘Flip Side’ and used ‘Both Sides Now’ as their ballad. Yes, the title of the song was a perfect fit with their show title, but they took it to another level. During the entire piece, the winds played first to the front side, and then to the back (utilizing “both sides”). They even changed playing directions (going from one end zone to the other) during some of the key passages while they were on the move. Subtle nuances such as these very often can give an older piece of music a “fresh new coat of paint”. Judges may have a personal preference for one style over another, but we are trained to “check those biases at the door” when judging a competition. We don’t care what musical style you choose to perform as long as you perform it well.
– Mark Culp