A Parent's Guide to Band Contests


Texas is blessed with a tremendously strong curricular music program in the public school systems. Our music programs have survived every curricular innovation, every scheduling impediment, and every budgetary crisis in the last 75 years. A large part of this longevity may be attributed to the well-organized and maintained competition system in Texas that is the model for the rest of the country. Band competitions in Texas are sponsored by two very different organizations: the University Interscholastic League(UIL) and the Texas Music Educators Association(TMEA). The UIL is an organization of schools that governs extracurricular academics, sports and music. TMEA is an organization of music teachers, including band, choir, orchestra, and classroom music teachers at every level through college. Marching and concert competitions are sponsored by the UIL, while TMEA sponsors the Region Band Contest and selects the Honor Bands in each class through recordings.


TMEA Region 26 All-District and All-Region Band - Auditions in October/November


All-District band is an individual contest for 7th and 8th grade students from Round Rock ISD.  Each woodwind or brass student learns three short pieces of music (etudes) as well as eight scales. Percussion will learn three etudes; one each on marimba, snare drum, and timpani. Each student performs for a panel of 5 judges in a blind audition; the students and judges cannot see one another. If a student is ranked high enough, they are placed in the All-District Band.  This band does not perform, but is an honorary title and award of high achievement.


The highest ranking students making All-District Band will advance to the second round of auditions for the All-Region Band, composed of Round Rock ISD students and those ranking highest from surrounding districts.  The highest ranking students of this final audition will be placed in one of three performing bands made up of the top students from the competition, with the top 1-4 students of some instruments making the elite All-Region Orchestra.  This is the highest individual honor a student can achieve in middle school band.


UIL Concert and Sight-Reading Contest - End of March


This is the staple competition for UIL, occurring every spring in all 32 regions of the state.  It will be our most important concert date of the year.  Each band prepares a concert program of two pieces chosen from the Prescribed Music List and a concert march (for example “Stars and Stripes Forever”) and performs them in front of three independent judges. The band is given a rating from each judge: I – Superior, II – Excellent, III – Good, IV – Fair, V – Poor. The judges cannot confer about their rating and the FINAL rating is a consensus of the three, not an average. Theoretically, EVERY band can get a I – Superior or a V – Poor. The competition is not among the bands, but against a standard of excellence that has been established through the many decades of this competition.


Immediately following the concert, the band moves to another room for Sight-Reading. The band director has a set amount of time (usually 7-8 minutes) to teach the band a completely new song that the band has never seen or played before. The students have only one opportunity to perform the song in front of three judges. The judges give ratings on a scale of I -V (1-5) like the Concert Contest. Judges will base their rating on the overall performance of the music and also consider the directions given from the band director during the explanation period and the students’ response to the director’s instructions.


If a band receives a I – Superior Rating in both the Concert and Sight-Reading portions of the contest, they earn a Sweepstakes Award.  Since almost all middle schools in the state of Texas participate in the Concert and Sight-Reading Contest, it is considered the equivalent of a statewide achievement test for Band. (Think STAAR for Band).  


Chamber Music Recitals


Students are organized into small ensembles, called “chamber groups”, made up of 3-8 members on the same instrument and select a piece of music to perform. Advanced Band students can perform with any other advanced band students that play the same instrument. Beginning band students must perform with students from their class. Each chamber group performs a piece for a judge who gives them adjudication comments to help them improve. Ensembles do not compete against each other, but rather critiqued against a set standard. Students are given a copy of their judges comment sheet and a certificate if they received an “outstanding” rating.



TMEA State Honor Band - At director’s discretion, every other summer


TMEA sponsored completion every two years to find the “State Honor Band” for each classification. All Middle School bands are divided into three classifications (C, CC, CCC) based on school enrollment (CVMS is classified as “CCC”). Bands across the state choose to record as many as four different performances of their concert programs and submit the best of these for consideration at the region, area and state levels. At each level a panel of five judges hears the recorded performances without knowing the school identification. The judges rank the performances from top to bottom and the top 2 at each level advance. Fourteen performances are heard at the final level to select the finalist and the State Honor Band in each class. The Honor Band performs the following year at the Texas Music Educators Convention in San Antonio the following February. This is the highest honor a band can receive in the state of Texas.