Advanced High School/Early college level

Range: 2.5 octaves.

Rhythm and meter: Duple and triple beat subdivisions; repetitive patterns; sporadic compound meter; standard time changes.

Key: Standard tonal and modal

Endurance: Ample rest; limited range; short movements/pieces of music

Extended techniques: None


In between category 

Pieces in this grade are more difficult than works from Grade 1, but are not complex enough to qualify them to be in Grade 3.


In between category 

Pieces in this grade are more difficult than works from Grade 3, but are not complex enough to qualify them to be in Grade 5.


Advanced college and professional level player

Range: Full professional range as required by standard orchestral repertoire.

Rhythm and Meter: mixed, simple, and compound meters, including 5/8, 7/8, etc.; no bar lines; cadenzas present.

Key: All keys and modes, enigmatic keys or "no key" notation with dedicated accidentals

Endurance: Common breathing opportunities; sustained articulation endurance challenges; moderate amount of rest.

Extended Techniques: Flutter tonguing, multiple mutes required.


I am aware of how useful a guide like this can be, so as to be able to identify appropriate works when planning a performance. The evaluation process of assigning different levels of difficulty to this brass quintet repertoire guide was very challenging. Since all the pieces are of a very high quality and none are categorized under advanced high school/early college level, I have settled on three main levels of difficulty, with the latter being the most demanding category: 1, 3 and 5. 

When a work is slightly more difficult, but not challenging enough to move it to the next category it was placed in the "in-between" categories of 2 and 4. A number of parameters have been considered when assessing the level of difficulty: range, rhythm and meter, key, endurance, and use of extended techniques. Throughout this process of grading pieces I realized that there are not many appropriate high school level pieces in the top 30 compositions for Brass Quintet. Please think of Grade 1 as upper level advanced high school ensembles. In the future I intend to explore more high school specific works to add to this guide.

Despite the fact that I have endeavored to be as careful as possible, I am all too aware that the results of my work can be called into question, and am therefore grateful for any suggestions you might have.

Grade Levels



Very difficult or virtuostic

Range: Full professional range with “athletic” hyper-extensions.

Rhythm and Meter: All rhythms and meters plus extensive aleatoric techniques.

Key: Atonal, quarter-tonal, and alternate systems

Endurance: Little rest; high range; flexibility; articulation endurance demands. No restrictions.

Extended Techniques: Multi-phonics, incomplete instrument, circular breathing, split tones, microtones and more.