MSBOA Proficiency Examinations

  Picture and title from the Pioneer. Complete article is 38K. The Big Rapids Pioneer carried an article about Glen Newton after he was selected to play in the first All-State Honors Band in Michigan as a result of his high scores in the trumpet proficiency examinations.

In the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association program, earning a blue ribbon (first place score) on a senior high division solo at the state level solo and ensemble festival was a milestone that required the student's subsequent solos at the state level to be played as part of a proficiency examination incorporating scales and sight reading as well as the solo.

Glen Newton won a blue ribbon on his solo at the state contest in his freshman year. Thus in his sophomore through senior years, after winning a first place rating on his solos at the district level, he took the Proficiency I, II, and III examinations at the state contests. He received scores of 91, 92, and 98, respectively and became the first Big Rapids High School student to reach the Proficiency III level.

In his junior and senior years, his Proficiency scores were the highest of any high school trumpeter in the state, earning him an invitation to perform in the First and Second Annual Michigan State Honors Bands.

To put this into perspective, it helps to remember that in 1964 and 1965, there were many more cornet than trumpet players in United States high schools, so being the highest-scoring trumpeter was a less impressive achievement than being the highest-scoring cornetist. However, in his senior year, Glen's 98% score in Proficiency III, awarded by judge Dan Kovats, was the highest of any trumpet or cornet player in the state. (He lost a point for intonation in bar 44 of his solo, "Petite Piece Concertante", by Guillaume Balay, and another in phrasing and articulation in his sight reading, on which the judge commented, "could ring out more".)

Level III was the highest of the standard proficiency examinations; the scales for that level included all major and minor scales, plus chromatic. To qualify for Proficiency IV, a student would have had to get a senior high blue ribbon on a solo in eighth grade. During the time Glen was in high school, there were few who qualified for Proficiency IV, including only one cornetist.

The sight reading portions of the proficiency examinations were hand-written and sometimes barely legible.

During a normal solo performance, the performer was required to play from memory. In contrast, during a proficiency examination the judge could stop and start the soloist, listening to only parts of the solo, so it didn't have to be memorized. (During Glen's three proficiency examinations, the judge always listened to the entire solo, and Glen played from memory.)

This page was last updated
Friday, February 07, 2020.

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