PMEA District Band

Auditions: Sat, Nov 23, 2019, 7:30am at Rustin High School

Festival: Feb 13-15, 2020 at Radnor High School

PMEA Website:


Register here by Fri, Nov 9:

What is it?

District Band, Orchestra, and Chorus are an amazing opportunity for outstanding high school musicians to be a part of a select group of musicians from across our area.  Sponsored by the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA), these ensembles are basically the “all-star team” for high school band/orchestra/chorus in our area. Garnet Valley has a proud tradition of students participating in this elite group every year.  Students in grades 10-12 can earn a spot in these ensembles by audition (see details below). If you earn a place in Districts, you participate in a three-day festival where you rehearse with a special guest conductor and perform a concert. The most outstanding musicians in District Band/Orchestra/Chorus can go on to earn a spot in Regional and even ALL-STATE ensembles!!  



Students in grades 10-12 are eligible to audition.  At Garnet Valley High School, we encourage all motivated and interested students to audition.  Even if you feel that you are not “good enough” to be in the group yet, the process of practicing, preparation, and auditioning will help you improve as a musician.  And you may even surprise yourself and make it! The auditions will be held on Saturday November 17 at Bayard Rustin High School. Students MUST practice diligently to prepare the audition requirements.  Lessons with a private teacher are highly recommended.


Students who are interested in auditioning must complete the online form by Tue, October 15



The audition consists of three parts, each held in a different room: 1) Prepared Solo  2) Scales, and 3) Sight Reading. It is highly recommended that you take lessons with a private teacher to help you prepare.  Read on for detailed information about the three audition requirements:


  1. Prepared Solo Excerpts: Each instrument has 2-3 musical excerpts that students must be prepared to perform at the audition.  These solos are of professional-level difficulty and are meant to challenge the serious student. Many hours of diligent practice with the guidance of a professional teacher are required to perform these solos well.  The sheet music for these is available as a free download (link coming soon) .


  1. Scales: The foundation of solid musicianship must include memorization of scales.  Although it takes hours upon hours to master your scales, this part of the audition should be a “slam dunk” for the student who takes the time to prepare.  When you enter the audition room for scales, you will be presented with a random selection of several scales to be performed from memory. As you practice and prepare your scales with your private teacher, follow the official guidelines provided by PMEA:




    4. PERCUSSION Instructions  -


  1. Sight Reading:  The third part of your audition will be to sight-read one or more short musical excerpts.  When you enter the audition room, the judges’ assistant will present you with the sheet music, marked with the specific sections to be performed.  You will be given a short amount of time (about 60 seconds) to silently study the music. You cannot play anything out loud, but you may tap your toe, count out rhythms, finger your instrument, etc.  After this brief silent practice, you tell the judges that you are ready to begin, and then you play the excerpt to the best of your ability. Do not stop and ask to start over!!!!! This will lower your score.  Just do your best from start to finish.


The best way to become a better sight-reader is to practice sight-reading!   The goal of sight-reading is to study the music before you play, and then try to play as perfectly as possible on your first try.  Work with your private teacher on strategies for becoming a better sight-reader. Some of these strategies include 1) Visually scan the music for key signature, time signature, tempo, repeats/endings/coda, articulation, style, etc. 2) Silently audiate the melodies and rhythms while fingering your instrument, 3) Looking for tricky rhythms and working them out before your start, etc.  Your private teacher can help you with this immensely. An excellent resource is the website: