BandQuest®, an exciting series of new music and accompanying curricula for band, is a program published by the American Composers Forum. The series was started as a response to feedback from music educators that there is a pressing need for new, fresh band music. The heart of this program is new works written by a diverse group of leading American composers who have created challenging pieces that are a true departure from standard middle school repertoire. Many of the compositions are accompanied by an interdisciplinary curriculum designed to assist students as they learn the music and to integrate each piece with non-music studies. New downloadable curriculum materials are currently being developed for the other pieces in the series. The BandQuest series is representative of the immense range and richness of American musical traditions. It gives students tools with which to create music, encouraging them to explore and to appreciate historical and cultural contexts.
BandQuest is exclusively distributed by Hal Leonard Corporation.
This new piece takes young players on a journey! Along the way, there are musical/compositional techniques that are intended to educate the performers about basic compositional techniques.
Letter from Sado
This “process piece” focuses on interpretation of an ancient haiku poem with natural imagery, and young performers are invited to become decision makers in the music.
Eye of the Hawk
Inspired by the beautiful and majestic Hudson Valley, this piece features a middle schooler’s “spirit animal,” the hawk. The fierce creature who owns the sky is portrayed through music conveying power, freedom, and confidence.
Grade 4, Advanced
The piece combines the composer’s experiences with both jazz and classical idioms, creating a work that’s as fun to play as it is to hear. The theme inspires a minor mode and haunting atmosphere.
In Old Churches, the composer uses elements of Gregorian chant to create an aura of voices echoing in the monastery using easy graphic notation.
Named after the east-west stretch of interstate that crosses through the Florida Everglades National Park, this playful work invokes two themes that illustrate the “alligator” and the “hunter.”
Brent Michael Davids
Giving a fresh look at the sound of Native American songs, this piece serves as an introduction to the Mohican tradition of “sung syllables” combined with traditional wood flute songs.
Thomas C. Duffy
A+: A “Precise” Prelude and An “Excellent” March
Playing a wrong note can supposedly ruin a performance, but this composer wants the performers to do so in this clever march!
New Wade ‘n Water
This piece is a contemporary adaptation of the traditional spiritual, Wade in the Water incorporating blues scales, mixed meters, and extended phrases.
Rhythm Stand pays tribute to the constant presence of rhythm in our lives. Incorporating traditional and non-traditional sounds within a 4/4 swing style, this setting encourages students to take a stand for rhythm!
This rousing piece is inspired by early rock ‘n roll rhythms, the African-American tradition of hamboning—clapping and slapping to create fun, new rhythms, and the melodies of the traditional cakewalk.
Utilizing the style of a Latin groove, this piece is a showcase for rhythmic dexterity. With stylistic elements of ostinati with off-beat accents and improvisation, this music excites both mind and body.
Adding to the minuscule number of Klezmer pieces for concert band, this is an upbeat work that gives every instrument the chance to play the melody.
As a kaleidoscope of various musical elements coming together, this work evokes a visual of mosaics. It integrates layers of sound with varying meters that feature every instrument in the band.
Charm is a fun, joyful piece written in the meter 7/8 that features clapping. It conjures up magic and that intangible quality possessed by certain people and places that truly can cast a spell.
Robert Xavier Rodriguez
Smash the Windows
Smash the Windows is a vigorous piece full of energy and motion. Based on a traditional Irish jig, the music gradually builds from its quiet beginning to a brilliant flourish.
Grade 4, Advanced
Nature’s Way embraces the composer’s personal style and concepts of form, continuity, texture, and instrumentation in a way that stretches young performers.
Grade 5, Advanced
Paper Cut is a piece reminiscent of a movie soundtrack. The players themselves are part of the action with choreographed maneuvers- in fact, the band members don’t even play their instruments until halfway into the piece – instead they “play” paper along with a prerecorded track!
This fanfare was written in the composer’s style of subtle spontaneity which is experienced through a fusion of classical and folk music elements.
James M. Stephenson
This engaging piece serves up a bluesy feel with challenging chromatic passages and saucy harmonies. It also gives students the opportunity to create their own percussive sounds with found kitchen utensils.
Sweet like that
Sweet like that, an urban march, is exuberant, joyful, and with a whiff of gospel; capsulizing the sound of the American street and instrumental doo-wop.
Odysseus and the Sirens
Inspired by The Odyssey written by Homer, this work illustrates Odysseus’ dramatic encounter with the sirens.
Spring Festival captures the spirit of the Chinese New Year and all the traditions that accompany this special Chinese festival. While the melody is drawn from a southern Chinese folk ensemble piece, the form of the piece is based on the idea of the Golden Section.
Judith Lang Zaimont
In her tone poem with complex jazz chords, the composer paints the image of rain through the rhythmic motive and use of body percussion and alternative instruments such as tapping patterns on music stands.
Grade 4.5, Advanced
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The BandQuest Curriculum
The national standards for arts education make it even more imperative that teachers have access to curriculum materials that link music with other subjects. Through the BandQuest curriculum, students will gain a richer and deeper understanding of the music they rehearse and perform. A growing number of pieces are accompanied by an innovative, interdisciplinary curriculum designed to facilitate the learning process and enhance their understanding of the music, its basic elements, its context and how it relates to other aspects of life and learning. BandQuest curriculum, written by Joanna Cortright and Herb Dick, is based on use of the Facets Model. To learn more about the Facets Model, you may download the PDF below.
- Carrie Backman, Director of Instrumental Music at Edgewood High School in Madison, WI
- Dr. Frank L. Battisti, conductor emeritus of the New England Conservatory of Music
- Thomas C. Duffy, BandQuest composer and Director of Bands at Yale School of Music
- Michael Hiatt, Music Resource Coordinator at Perpich Center for Arts Education
- Elizabeth Jackson, Band Director at Eden Prairie High School
- Scott A. Jones, Associate Professor of Music and Associate Director of Bands, Ohio State University School of Music
- Craig Kirchhoff, Director of Bands at the University of Minnesota
- Jerry Luckhardt, Associate Director of Bands at the University of Minnesota
- John Paulson, Founder and former President of MakeMusic!/Coda Music Technologies
- Laura Sindberg, Assistant Professor of Instrumental Music Education at the University of Minnesota
- P. Brett Smith, Band Director at Anderson Elementary School
National Endowment for the Arts
I.A. O’Shaughnessy Foundation