Judging Tips?

Hey guys,

Thanks to one of our Senior Members here on the forum, erath, I will be judging my first standstill competition this coming October. Any of you seasoned judges have any tips for me?

And yes, Eric is fully aware of me being a noob:)

Any suggestions would be great, thanks!
I asked this same question when I started judging.
The best advice I got was:

Keep your intro. short. Don't go on and on with where you've taught, played etc.

The best advice I could give is never cross caption.  Stick to what you know, throw skills at them but stay within your sheet.  Hope this helps some.
I have a few tips for you...

First, complete your thoughts on the tape.  Don't switch concepts mid-sentence.

Maintain an awareness that what you say is ";public";.  The kids, and their parents, will hear that tape.

Be prepared with a few ways of saying ";dirt"; in a nice way.  Like, ";some phasing on the left side of the snares"; or ";front to back not lining up here";.  Words like, ";phasing";, ";interplay";, ";challenge";, ";appropriateness";, and things like ";energy";, ";joy";, ";fun";, and other adjectives that kids would want to hear that are positive about any performance should be coming out on tape.

Remember if it's a big thought, cut it off and save it for the end of the tape.

I personally don't try to say anything negative for the first minute, thus it allows me to gauge the group performing and their level of performance, and once I have that level, I tone my critique to that level.

Nothing wrong with saying you ";appreciate"; something.  You can also note the ";attempt"; of something that's dirty.  ";Yes, I appreciate the snare roll there.  The attempt wasn't fully executed, but the difficulty is noted.";  Also, no problem saying that a section had problems, even if you're ";not sure what side of the line, but..."; - particularly if you have a player really sticking out.  However I don't hold back on kids that don't have their book memorized.

";Unfortunately at this level of competition, it's very apparent those performers who are prepared and have their music and drill memorized, and those that do not.  As a group who hasn't fully accomplished that memorization, your group may be at an impasse for improvement, as it is nearly impossible to focus as a group on what needs to be accomplished while members of the group aren't sure what they're doing.";

And when all else fails, if you think what you're about to say is in any way inappropriate, don't say it.  Just say what you see, judge it for how you understand it, and be confident in what you do say.  In the end, it's just band.  Get the number right, and the tape isn't such a big deal.

Good luck.

PS -- bring two sets of fresh batteries for your tape recorder, and be sure to have very fresh batteries to start with.  Test it twice, and keep your hand off the buttons and don't pop the mic with ";p"; sounds.  If anything, tilt the mic toward the performance so that the instructor can hear the part you're commenting on.
Sweet guys, thanks. I just sent you all some karma, keep the ideas coming!!

The previous post was quite good.  Essentially, your
responsibility is to try and assign a number to the
performances you evaluate and rank the groups in the order
you believe they should be.  If you do that, you've done your

Above and beyond that I believe that you should see yourself as an educator trying to offer
constructive and positive input to the ensembles you
are judging.  Always remember, whether the ensembles are BOA/WGI
finalist caliber or small schools in rural areas with
little instruction, they are comprised of students aged, say,
15 - 18 and should be treated respectfully.  You should
always think about separating the comments you might
have for the designer/instructor from those you are sharing
with students to better their performance.       

Give them an enthusiastic tape that locates those things they do
well and also offers them constructive ways to improve what they do.
I may differ with some folks, but as I have gotten older I have found
that pointing all of the instances where an ensemble makes a mistake/ticks,
however you wish to describe it, really does not help.  Give them ways
to fix things or identify technique issues which are keeping them
from doing what they do better.

Hope the above-offered info makes sense.  Looking back, I
did so many tapes I wish I could take back and do again so
I functioned as a teacher/evaluator and not someone merely
pointing out all of the perceived flaws with the performance.

And, always offer comments that justify your number and
are consistent with the criteria on your sheet for assigning that

Take care,

p.s.  If you can get a tape recorder that allow you to use a head-set,
that's a bonus.
Thumbs up on the previous post by Neal and the post by drumcat.

Here's my two-cents worth.

1.  Sample the line.  I hate to remember the many times that the percussion judge totally ";ignored"; the front ensemble and said nothing during their feature or dominant moment in the show.  It is possible that the judge did not understand the techniques being demonstrated (4-mallet, etc.) and so could not put into words anything that would be helpful or give direction for improvement.  Many times the only section happening in a small band is the snare drummer(s).  That said, you can still give an brief offering of positive input to the other players.

2.  Use words/phrases that the developing line can understand.  Getting too technical or wordy with a line that is developing their skills, will be lost on them.  Most band directors don't give their percussionists enough instructional time, if any.  Many directors rely on young and inexperienced instructors that may have great hands but are poor in their instructional direction for the group.  All of these young players deserve the opportunity to grow from their competitive experience.

3.  Never write a number (score) on your sheet and then erase it.  Be sure you have worked it out before writing it down in the box.  However, if you must erase, put your initials by it.  There are still those that think everything in the world is stacked against them.  (I usually want to say to them ";look in the mirror"; - but I don't.)

4.  Your enthusiasm is critical to motivating the line you are judging.  Even if the group is horrible, stay positive, give them guidance, and don't shoot them down.  They are a product of their circumstance.

Best of luck and remember to have fun.
Funny...Neal and I were having a conversation on this top this morning.  I have been judging for more that 20 years now, and man how I wish I could redo some of the tapes I made in my early years.  I was just nasty.  Not what I said...the way I said it. I'm not sure when it happened, but I realized long ago that these were kids going home after listening to my tapes and feeling like they wasted their summer.  I decided to change that.  I have been hired for every weekend since.

As Neal said so well (Isn't he the most eloquent writer?) ...whether it is a BOA group, or a rural group with little or no instruction, all deserve a positive read.  I have been criticized many times for being easy.  I will not change this.  I feel that if a student, 14-15, has spent a summer in the hot sun, they need to be told that what they are doing on the field was worth the effort. 

I always try to give a positive comment for every criticism I make.  That is my advice.  Also, take into consideration the resources of the schools you judge.  If a school comes out and does a nice, musical effort, and has 6-9 players, they deserve the same opportunity to score well as a school that comes out with three instructors, 15 in the front, and 20 in the battery.  And finally, if in doubt of whether to give a I or a II, just go ahead and give the I.  I have never gone home worried about if I should have given the I, but many times worried if I should have given the II (bad grammar....good intent)

I don't give away scores....but I do try to make each line feel like what they did was worth their effort.  Don't be like me, and wish you could repair damage done 15 or so years ago. 

Have a good time judging....it makes for a fun Saturday if you approach it with a good attitude.
Everything that has been mentioned is great!

A couple of thoughts:

Try to acknowledge every student in your caption, either by section, or individually.  As has been said, these are students, sometimes very young ones, and they need to know that you are seeing what they are doing.  The group may just be one of 20 or 30 you judge that day, but these guys have been working for many weeks, and the build up to performance can be a bit stressful.  Their instructors and fellow students may have been telling them what a big deal this is, and if you don't even acknowledge their effort it can be a bit of a let down for them.  I remember several years ago, judging one of cmoore's groups, and he made me aware of a special needs student in the pit.  It was all the young man could do to play a few cymbal crescendos.  It was nothing for me to say ";nice job on the suspended cymbal";, but that made his day.

Try to say something possitive about what the group/individual is doing first, then note deficiencies, and ways to improve.  Students want to hear good things about themselves (don't we all?), and will usually be more receptive to criticism if it it prefaced with acknowledgement of something they are doing well.  With younger/less experienced groups, you may have to really reach, (";Hey, those are nice shoes you are wearing.";), but it really does make a difference.

Hope some of this helps.

Good luck to you.

Good to see you on the board cmoore!!

[quote author=Lydian9 link=topic=2716.msg14455#msg14455 date=1221095706]
Thanks to one of our Senior Members here on the forum, erath, I will be judging my first standstill competition this coming October. Any of you seasoned judges have any tips for me?

And yes, Eric is fully aware of me being a noob:)

Yeah, Ralph, you are a total noob!

Seriously though, there is some great advice posted here in response to your inquiry. As a teacher it makes me confident that it's possible to get a good tape that you can play for the kids without having had to preview it first. (And sometimes, you just don't get the time to listen to these before you play them for the kids).

We are looking forward to having you and playing your outrageous book for you!
I agree with all of what the above posters said...especially the part about remembering that the kids listen to the tapes.

Here's some things that can get at me sometimes:

1. Ive taught some really dirty lines that got super-positve tapes. These do not help. Be fair and honest.
2. Dont give out a best Snare Line score. Score for total percussion contribution and execution.
3. If it is a less than glowing review overall, if you see something that is done well, make it as big a deal as all the bad stuff...more positive reinforcement of what the staff probably tells the kids every day.
4. Ask me about my program in critique. This may be a no-no but I have some judges who through years of judging us, know what we're trying to do, and where we are as a program.
5. If you see something that is a recurring problem, mention it twice or so, then move on. Dont dwell.

Of course, these are all just my opinion. 
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