How do you decide what Division to enter your Concert Band, Big Band or Orchestra? When it says "Novice" - what does that really mean? I prefer to think about what you want to get out of the experience for your Bands/Ensembles but most importantly what do you want the students to get out of it! It was obvious in the 2016 Festival that some schools entered their best band/orchestra/ensemble into a section that really was too low for them. Of course they did very well and sometimes really "stood out" from the crowd. But did they achieve what they wanted? Is it a "win" that you are chasing? Is it a "Gold"? I insist on entering my student ensembles into the most demanding section that they can cope with. (ie - they can get through one of the "set pieces" adequately). I do this because I want teh ensembles to aspire to be the best they cab be. To be as good as "XXXXXXX" Band (they are amazing!). By aspiring to go "up a Div." they have set higher expectations and are aspirational. Isn't that what all of want for our students? Isn't it all about "personal bests" and being the best we can? Taking on challenges? I implore every School Band or Orchestra Director to set higher goals, or go out and play with the "big kids". don't ever underestimate your students, set them challenges, raise the expectation. I bet your students won't disappoint. Let's hope that the "Advanced" Sections are overflowing with hard working aspirational talent in 2017!