33 brass bands from all over the country, and even Canada, go to Fort Wayne, Indiana hoping to win the North American Brass Band Association (NABBA) National Championship. The NABBA Championship is an extremely tense competition that requires bands to play a test piece and a choice piece(s) that fill up the amount of time allowed. The bands are split into five levels : Championship, 1, 2, 3 and youth. Each level has a different test piece and a different amount of time to preform.
Peter Graham composed the test pieces for the 2017 NABBA Championships. Along with composing the test pieces, Peter Graham was also an adjudicator and won the President’s Award. Graham is respected all over the world, he has received several awards and his music has been played by well respected bands from all over the world.
Bands that competed spent several hours every week practicing the music composed by Peter Graham. Along with several hours of practice as a collective band, most members spent even more hours a week practicing individually. A member who was interviewed stated, ” We practiced 2 hours every week, but 4 during the weeks that led up to NABBA.” He also said, “I practice everyday for about 45 minutes.”
For the most part band members were happy with the way they competed. “It was okay, but not our best performance,” said one interviewee. The Conductor of the Cincinnati Brass Band, Anita Cocker Hunt, said, “I thought our band played very well. We had a few intonation and alignment problems, but we did well and I was very proud of them.” When Ms. Cocker Hunt was asked what she would’ve done differently when preparing for NABBA she said, “We probably wouldn’t have as many concerts as we did and use that time to rehearse.”
NABBA has a fun atmosphere. The competition might be tense but everyone is very supportive. Band members meet and catch up with competitors from other bands. The great music is why NABBA is such a success but the fun atmosphere also adds to the explanation as to why NABBA is a great competition every year.