Ensemble Placement Guidelines

YOBC ENSEMBLE PLACEMENT for New & Returning Students

YOBC strives to unite artistry and education to create enriching ensemble experiences for young musicians. We are fortunate to have more than 10 different ensembles at YOBC, and we aim to place students in the band or orchestra that will best help them succeed. Details about prerequisites for specific ensembles are available here.

Auditions for New Students

Auditions for new students are held in May, with placement decisions following shortly thereafter. Our judges take into consideration the expected improvement during the 4-month period between May auditions and the beginning of the season in September.

Placement for Current Students

All returning students will receive placement recommendations from YOBC conductors following season-long evaluation. A conductor may recommend a student either be placed in a different group or continue participating in their current ensemble. Returning wind students wishing to be considered for placement in the next ensemble must request a formal audition.
Both recommendations are common, and a student who is asked to remain in his or her current ensemble should not view this as a punishment. Instead, it is simply because the conductor believes the student’s current ensemble is still appropriate for his or her skill level. Our goal is to find a group that is sufficiently challenging, without going so far as to frustrate or discourage.

Placement Requirements

YOBC is frequently asked what a student can do to satisfy the requirements for placement in the next ensemble. To fully answer this question would require in-depth explanation of all the skills a musician requires. The short answer, however, is “practice.”
Practicing is the most dependable way to improve one’s musical abilities, and therefore the best way to prepare for higher-level YOBC ensembles. That said, every individual learns at a different pace, and how long it takes for a student to be ready to move up is determined on a case-by-case basis. Still, there are two main areas where students can aim to improve:
  • Technique, or how well a student can play his or her instrument, is one of the most fundamental criteria for determining ensemble placement. Technique is typically improved by practice at home and by studying with a private teacher. The best way a student can demonstrate his or her technique at YOBC is through careful preparation of a wide variety of music.
  • Ensemble skills, on the other hand, are evaluated during rehearsals all year. Ensemble skills include behavioral attributes such as attentiveness and etiquette as well as musical skills like counting, sight reading, following the conductor, and playing in unison with the rest of the ensemble. Conductors consider thorough preparation of the ensemble repertoire, thereby illustrating both the ability to perform challenging repertoire and dedication to the ensemble.

If a student continues to cultivate his or her skills in both of these categories, he or she will undoubtedly enjoy a successful and positive experience at YOBC.


You will find the following information helpful in answering questions frequently asked about placement in YOBC ensembles.
Are YOBC ensembles based on age or ability?
How long will a student stay in each ensemble?
When will ensemble assignments be made?
Can students be promoted during the year if they improve?
What is the right level of challenge for students?