An Overview of "The Nationals"

The Basics of Competing at a National Championships

The Australian National Band Championships ("The Nationals") brings together musicians of all skill levels from diverse backgrounds across Australia (and worldwide) to compete in a friendly and constructive environment to be crowned Champions of Australia. The Nationals comprises three distinct events, the On-stage Championships, Marching Championships and Solo/Ensemble Championships. The Nationals are usually held over the Easter long weekend. In 2023, they will be in Newcastle, NSW, from 7 - 10 April, at Newcastle City Hall and the Newcastle Civic Theatre.

On-Stage Championships

The On-Stage Championship is open to brass and concert bands across Australia and worldwide. Bands are classified as Open or Junior, and each classification comprises multiple grades. For example, the open sections have four grades, A, B, C, and D (with A being the most difficult), while the Junior sections have three grades A, B, and C.

Music Requirements 

Bands are required to perform four items when competing at the National Band Championships; these are as follows: 

Hymn

A tune from a recognised Church Hymnal or an arrangement based thereon;

Test Piece

Every band must perform this work in that grade. For example, all bands competing in the Open A Grade Concert band section will perform the set Test Piece announced on 1 September 2022.

Own Choice Selection

This piece is a significant work chosen by the band, which highlights the band's strengths.

March

The march comes from a special list called the 'NBCA Prescribed March List'.

 

Scoring 

These four pieces are performed to an audience and the adjudicators and marked out a total of 600 points:

Piece Score
Hymn 100
Test Piece 200
Own Choice 200
March 100

The band gaining the highest number of points shall be the Australian National Champion for that grade. In a tie in aggregate points, the winner shall be the band acquiring the highest number of points in the Test Piece.

 

Time Limits for all events are below:

Hymn (All grades) - 6 minutes

Own Choice Selection A and B Grade - 23 minutes

Own Choice Selection C and D Grades - 18 minutes

Junior A Grade - 16 minutes

Junior B Grade - 13 minutes

Junior C Grade - 10 minutes

 

Player Limits for on Stage Events:

Note maximum player numbers on stage are as per current NBCA regulations:

Brass – maximum 34 instrumentalists + percussion as required

Concert – maximum 70 instrumentalists + percussion as required

Seating plans are necessary so we can prepare the stage for your performance. These are due 6 weeks before the event.

 

Marching Championships

For all Open Brass bands, entry into the On-Stage Championships requires participating in the Parade of Bands. Concert bands and Junior Brass bands may also compete in the Parade of Bands, though this is not compulsory. Bands can choose a different march for the Parade of Bands from their On-Stage Championship.

Scoring

There are four elements to competing in the Parade of Bands.

Inspection (20 points)

Bands are inspected before marching in the Parade of Bands. Points are deducted for errors, including incorrect spacing in ranks and files, instability in the ranks and other irregularities. (see NBCA Drill Handbook)

Music (40 points)

Points are awarded on the quality of the music being produced whilst a band is marching.

Change of Direction (20 points)

Points are awarded based on the execution and entertainment value of the change of direction.

Drill (100 points)

Points are awarded based on how well a band executes the marching evolutions.

The band in each grade gaining the highest aggregate points for these four items will be declared the Champion Marching Band.

 

Solo & Ensemble Championships

Solo Sections

All soloists perform a test piece that has been chosen specifically for their instrument and age group (Open; Junior - U/19).

Soloists generally perform their pieces with piano accompaniment and are scored out of 100 points. The following sections will be contested at the Nationals:

Brass

Eb Soprano Cornet, Bb Cornet, Bb Trumpet, Flugel Horn, Eb Tenor Horn, French Horn, Tenor Trombone, Bass Trombone, Baritone, Euphonium, High Tuba (EEb & F), Low Tuba (BBb & C).

Woodwind

Piccolo, Flute, Oboe, Bassoon, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone.

Percussion

Side/Snare Drum, Mallet Percussion, Timpani, Multi Percussion.

Champion of Champions — Brass & Woodwind

The competitors who win their respective solo championships are invited to compete in an additional Champion of Champions event. This event showcases the best of the best and allows competitors to perform a piece of their own choice. The Champion of Champion events are held for Open Brass, Open Woodwind, Junior Brass and Junior Woodwind sections.

The Champion Percussionist

The Champion Percussionist is determined by allocating 5, 3 and 2 points to competitors who come 1st, 2nd and 3rd and 1 point to competitors who don't place in each of the four Open and Junior percussion sections. Those points are then aggregated to determine the Open and Junior Champion Percussionist.

Quartets and Quintets

The following ensemble sections are contested at the Nationals. Quartets and Quintets involve four or five players performing a work of their choosing and receiving a score out of 100.

Open Quartet

Junior Quartet

Open Quintet

Junior Quintet