The National Band Association “Wind Band Symposiums” have been in existence since 2011 and provide Concert Bands within a small geographic area the opportunity to rehearse their concert repertoire for spring activities and state adjudication festivals with renowned guest conductors as well as attend master classes and hear other high school bands that are in the same stages of preparation of their concert music. Since all participating bands are in the early stages of preparation for these festivals, they are rehearsed in a manner that assists them in that process. The major emphasis in the Symposiums is on the rehearsal process and improving individual student skills, not performance.
The Symposiums also provide college students and band directors from non-participating schools to attend the rehearsals, clinics and master classes as well as roundtable discussions on topics that are of importance to their professional responsibilities.
The format of the Symposiums is flexible and is determined by the needs of the participating bands. In all, each band rehearses for a total of 10 hours over the course of the two-day event. The basic format has bands arriving at the host school on a Friday afternoon in late January or early February. The event begins with an Opening Session where participating schools and their directors as well as the guest conductors are introduced. Rehearsals then commence and end later in the evening. Rehearsals resume Saturday morning and continue into the early afternoon hours. At that point, students attend Master Classes on their individual instruments and learn from local professional musicians or college studio teachers. Students then return for a brief rehearsal before moving to the auditorium for a brief informal concert with each participating band performing one of their selections for the other bands as well as other guests.
Some Symposiums have included conducting clinics with college bands in the area serving as the lab band. In those cases, the college bands also perform a short concert for the participants. Symposiums in the DC area have been treated by performances of the DC-based service bands.
Clinic sessions have included topics such as “Tips for your First Professional Interview”, “Small Bands/Great Performances”, “An Overview of the National Band Association”, “Effective Strategies Before the Sight-Reading Room” as well as clinics by well-known composers.
Symposiums have been held on high school campuses in Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. A few symposiums have been hosted at universities such as West Chester University, University of Pennsylvania, and George Mason University.
Videos of the 2016 West Chester University of Pennsylvania are available on banddirector.com.