Basic Information

Composed by Frank Erickson
Published by Bourne Co.
Grade 2
Length 3 minutes 15 seconds

Teaching Concepts

Time Signature: 4/4
Key Signature: Eb, C
Tempo: Quarter note = 68 - 72
Other Information: This classic of band literature has a great deal to offer to bands of any level. It offers a wonderful opportunity to teach bands about long legato phrasing as well as balance. The key of Eb at the beginning will not be a problem for most players, but the key of C at the end will provide a significant challenge. Intonation is a concern throughout the piece, but especially after the students begin to play in this unfamiliar key signature. Finally, there are many entrances on the and of beats through the music providing an excellent opportunity to work with students on developing internal subdivision.

Program Notes

This work was first published in 1956 and later revised in 1966. It is 53 measures long and lasts about three minutes. This work has long taught young musicians about phrasing and listening skills while developing intonation skills and the ability to perform long sustained lines. The expressiveness of the simple yet tuneful melody along with the flowing harmonic lines allow young students to truly be successful in making music.

Air for Band was written in 1956, early in Erickson's career then was revised later in 1966. He was very concerned with creating a piece that young students could be successful in performing that also had an educational value. The desire to create pieces that were melodically interesting and educational in nature was one of several composers in this era. Erickson wanted to help young musicians grow so he favored simple and harmonically uncomplicated ideas that were playable, interesting and that still have a musically worthwhile idea. The term Air was adapted from the term Aria. It is used to describe a tuneful melody in a vocal or instrumental line. Traditionally such a vocal line would be strophic, syllabic, and homo-phonic. The French also had a more serious version of this term known as Air de cour, or court air. This was a poem-like melody that had extensive phrasing. This piece stays true to its name with its very tuneful melody carried primarily in the clarinets.


Small School Considerations

This masterfully scored work will not provide too much of an instrumentation challenge for a small ensemble. The horn part is covered through out by other instruments, though the color of the instrument will be missed. The flute part goes up to a D above the staff, which may cause trouble for a weak flute section. Additionally, the first trumpet part is very manageable, but will require a confident player as it is very exposed several times during the piece.


Bb Clarinet 1, 2, 3
Eb Alto Clarinet
Bb Bass Clarinet
Alto Saxophone 1, 2
Tenor Saxophone
Baritone Saxophone
Trumpet 1, 2, 3
Horn 1, 2
Trombone 1, 2, 3
String Bass

Percussion Requirements and Possible Substitutions

Snare Drum
Crash Cymbals

Link to Available Recording

Recording available here.


Analysis of Air for Band
Air for Band Teaching Unit