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Concrete Wall

Difficulty Assessment Rubric for Trumpet Solos

What is DARTS?

The Difficulty Assessment Rubric for Trumpet Solos (DARTS) is a music evaluation tool designed to help both educators and trumpeters more accurately assess the technical challenges of a piece of music. By evaluating 14 separate elements on their level of difficulty, DARTS compiles a composite score for a piece and assigns  a grade level  (I-VI) based on the evaluations. While multiple pieces may share a composite score/grade level, each rubric is individualized, allowing for a transparent look at the challenges a piece might present. 

Why was DARTS created?

During the spring of 2022, I began to work on concepts for my lecture recital at Florida State University. While trying to decide on a topic for the recital, I remembered my experiences as a high school director preparing non-trumpet students for solo/ensemble contests and the challenges of trying to find repertoire that actually met the needs of my students. Those experiences were the inspiration for DARTS.

How was DARTS assembled?

To create DARTS, I examined trumpet method books, beginning band book series, music lists by trumpet instructors and music associations, and assessment tools used by various music publishers and distributors. All of these materials helped me create the grading scale and technical factors that make up the core of the rubric.The 14 factors assessed by DARTS are as follows:

  • Meter

  • Note Values and Rhythm

  • Equipment

  • Key Signature

  • Dynamics

  • Piano Scoring

  • Tempo

  • Length

  • Endurance

  • Range

  • Flexibility

  • Melodic Contour

  • Ornaments

  • Articulation

Who is DARTS for?

DARTS offers an alternative to the uncodified series of assessment tools used by music publishers, distributors, and educational associations by providing transparency on how music is evaluated. My hope is that DARTS will help better inform the decisions educators and performers make when selecting repertoire, allowing them to find the right piece for the right moment. 

How can DARTS be accessed?

Below is a pdf copy of the latest version of DARTS and a link to the current assessments of trumpet music. This can be used by anyone to analyze any classical solo work for trumpet. Currently, a database is being compiled of the DARTS for numerous trumpet works so that trumpeters can more easily find information on music that best suites their performance or educational needs. A note about the current DARTS assessment document: Not every piece has been officially updated to reflect their current score, so some discrepancies may appear. Please keep this in mind when reading through early versions of DARTS assessments. 

DARTS v.9b

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