Band Grading Guidelines

Grade 1
TEMPO
Andante (72) to Moderato (120)
No tempo changes

METER
     

KEYS
1 to 4 flats

NOTE VALUES
Whole
Dotted half
Half
Quarter
Dotted quarter
Eighth

RHYTHM
Mostly unison rhythm

DYNAMICS
 to 

ARTICULATION
Attack
Release
Slur
Staccato
Accent

LENGTH
1 to 3 minutes

WHAT TO AVOID
Clarinets crossing the break
Key changes
Frequent meter changes
Exposed solos
2 horn parts
Grade 2
TEMPO
Andante (72) to Allegro (132)
ritardando and accelerando

METER
   
Easy compound meters can be used

KEYS
0 to 4 flats

NOTE VALUES
+ Simple 16th notes
+ Triplets

RHYTHM
Simple syncopation, dotted rhythm
+ More non-unison

DYNAMICS
 to 
short crescendo and diminuendo

ARTICULATION
+ Legato

LENGTH
2 to 5 minutes

WHAT TO AVOID
Frequent key changes
Frequent meter changes
Extensive use of 2 horn parts
Grade 3
TEMPO
Largo (56) to Allegro (144)
+ rallentando

METER
   
Easy changing meters

KEYS
0 to 5 flats

NOTE VALUES
All values in duple meter
Easy values in compound meter

RHYTHM
Duple and triple meter syncopation

DYNAMICS
 to 
crescendo and diminuendo

ARTICULATION
+ Tenuto

LENGTH
3 to 7 minutes

WHAT TO AVOID
Extreme high and low registers
Difficult double reed solos
Complex syncopation
Grade 4
TEMPO
Largo (44) to Presto (168)

METER
       
Asymmetrical meter changes

KEYS
1 sharp to 6 flats

NOTE VALUES
All values in all meters

RHYTHM
All except:
Complex 16th note syncopation
Complex compound meter syncopation

DYNAMICS
 to 
long crescendo and diminuendo

ARTICULATION
2+ articulations at same time in ensemble

LENGTH
6+ minutes
Grade 5
TEMPO
Largo (44) to Prestissimo (208)

METER
Any meter combination

KEYS
Any key
Limit abrupt key changes

NOTE VALUES
All values in all meters

RHYTHM
All rhythms

DYNAMICS
Multiple dynamics between instruments

ARTICULATION
All articulations

LENGTH
Any length

WHAT TO AVOID
Player ability limits

Orchestra Grading Guidelines

Beginning
(Grade ½)
TEMPO
Moderato
No tempo changes

METER
   

KEYS
D major | B minor
D and A strings only
Bass:
D and G strings
Open A string

RANGE
1st position
6 note limit preferred
D-E-F#-G-A
Unison perferred
3 Part Scoring:
Violin 1
Violin 2, Viola
Cello, Bass

BOWINGS
Simple detache
Slow pizz.
Minimal string crossings
Rest between arco and pizz.

RHYTHMS
Quarter notes and rests
Some half notes and rests
Unison rhythms

DURATION
Up to 1½ minutes
Elementary
(Grade 1 to 1 ½)
TEMPO
Andante
Moderato
Allegro

METER
       

KEYS
D major | B minor
Easy G major | E minor
Low 2nd finger in Grade 1½

RANGE
1st position
Independent Violin 2, Viola
+ Open E and C strings
Cello/Bass double in Grade 1
+ Bass: 3rd position

BOWINGS
Detache, pizz.
+ Staccato, legato, marcato
2 note stepwise slurs, hooked
Adjacent string crossings

RHYTHMS
Steady quarter notes
+ 8th notes
+ Dotted quarter notes in Grade 1½

DURATION
Up to 2 minutes
Middle School
(Grade 2 to 3 ½)
TEMPO
+ Adagio
+ Vivace

METER
    

KEYS
2 flats - 2 sharps
Minimal low 1st/high 3rd finger
Minimal low 4th finger
1 key change

RANGE
Violin 1: + 3rd position
Cello: + extended and 4th position
Bass: + ½ and 2nd position

BOWINGS
4 note slurs
Slurred string crossings
Spiccato

RHYTHMS
Basic syncopation, quarter and 8th notes
Pickups, triplets
Easy 16th notes (groups of 4)
Minimal meter changes

DURATION
2 to 4 minutes
High School
(Grade 3 to 4)
TEMPO
All tempo markings

METER
                         

KEYS
3-4 flats - 3-4 sharps
All fingerings
Multiple key changes

RANGE
Violin 1: + 5th position and higher
Violin 2/Viola: + 3rd position
Cello: + 2nd to 5th position
Bass: + 5th position

BOWINGS
Slurred staccato
Long slurred runs
Multiple down bows
Ponticello and sul tasto

RHYTHMS
More complex rhythms
Multiple 16th note combos
Hemiola
Multiple meter changes

DURATION
3 to 7 minutes
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