Gunnedah Shire Band is doing the hard yards to prepare for Yamaha Australian National Band Championships next week.
The band will face off with 15 competitors from around Australia in open B-grade section of the nationals in Brisbane City Hall from April 16-21. The band has seen success in the A-grade section for many years.
For the last 10 weeks, the musicians have been practising twice a week for two-and-half-hours intervals, and have attended three weekend workshops.
"We're going there hopeful," band master Laurence Rowe said.
"Everyone's certainly working hard and effort's been put in and improvements are happening, so hopefully on the day everything will go well.
Mr Rowe said four former members - Daniel Gumbleton, Maja Heath, Ashleigh Comber, Jacob Bush - will lend their experience to the band for the competition.
"It's fantastic to be lucky and fortunate enough to have those older players who are a lot more experienced. It's great to see them give that support," he said.
Thirty-five members and their support crew will leave Gunnedah on April 16, with 20 members to compete in solo sections on April 18. The whole band will compete on the 19th and 21st, lead by conductor Anthony Rowe.
That's the whole idea of competition, really - to extend their abilities and play to the highest standard possible.Laurence Rowe, band master
On April 19, the band will perform a test selection and hymn tune. The test selection they have chosen is The Legend of Pandora written by Benjamin Tubb-Hearne specifically for the Open B Grade Brass Section.
"The kids are finding it a really good piece to perform," Mr Rowe said.
"It's testing everyone but we can see good improvements. It's really bringing out the best in people. That's the whole idea of competition, really - to extend their abilities and play to the highest standard possible."
For its hymn piece, the band will perform Perfect Peace by Kenneth Downie.
"Hymns are all about precision and beautiful tuning and this piece, isn't particularly technically difficult but because of performance expectations it has to be nearly perfect," Mr Rowe said.
"With such a young band, the expectations of the kids to perform at that level has been a bit of a learning curve for them but it's definitely starting to sound like the composer intended."
On April 21, the band will perform in the own choice and stage march sections. For own choice, the conductor has chosen Prisms by Peter Graham.
"It's still considered a very technically challenging piece for B-grade bands as we've found out, but Anthony has worked well with the band... [and] it's starting to sound really exciting. They're starting to sound like the real thing," Mr Rowe said.
"For us, it's probably the most technically challenging piece we've played for a few years. For the young members who have come on board it's taken a while to get there."
In the stage march, the band will perform Mercury by Jan van der Roost.
"It's a very exciting march. The kids love it," Mr Rowe said.
"It's got lots of florid runs. That makes it a very exciting work to play. It's quite new so it won't be such a well-known piece."
Mr Rowe said he was thankful that the parents of band members were so supportive of the competitions and the work required to compete.
"Without the support parents are giving their kids to put this effort into contest preparation, we wouldn't be going anywhere," he said.
"We're very lucky."