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It’s Time to Write the Rating Down

By Mark McGahey, TMAA Concert Band Vice President | Thursday, January 24, 2013 12:47 PM

At the conclusion of a band’s performance at a UIL contest, our job, as music adjudicators, is to give our professional opinion of the performance. What criteria should we use when deciding the rating?

1] Write the summary for tone, technique and musicianship. Remember, we are evaluating the band’s overall achievement, not just a summary of each of the three concert selections.

Some examples of tone comments could be, “Great tonal center and good recovery on matching pitches today.” Comments specific to technique could be, “Technique sounds worked out and flawless, but continue to refine the style and snappiness of the dotted-eighth-sixteenth rhythm.”  Musicianship comments could be, “Performers convey an artistic approach to the music, while playing with energy and a great understanding of the music.”

2] Evaluate each objective using the adjudication rubric. See how your comments fit into the concert band adjudication rubric, and where those comments fit into each objective (all, most, some, few or none). This is where your professional experience guides your judgment.  How well do you feel that the ensemble is achieving all elements of the music?

3] Make sure the comments match the rating. I think we all have experienced frustration with comments that are glowing and complimentary and reflect a successful performance, but the rating assigned is lower than expected. If we focus on the UIL concert and sight-reading adjudication rubrics, we should be able to substantially reduce these types of experiences. As an adjudicator, you are circling comments on the rubric that match the performance. This will show where on the rubric (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th division) the majority of the comments lie.   

4] All of the above principles apply to a UIL sight-reading performance. Additional comments should probably reference “recovery from error.” No one expects a perfect performance; however, students should demonstrate the ability to correct errors within a given performance. Topics such as missed key signatures, missed entrances, wrong rhythms and incorrect balance usually prevail in a performance that is below the top rating.

5] Remember, in the sight-reading room your evaluation and rating is based only on the actual performance.  It is easy to be influenced by the instructional period, student involvement, the warm-up note, or scale; however, this is not a part of your role in evaluating the band and assigning a rating.

6] Adjudication comments are often posted, scanned, and quoted on blogs and social networking pages. We should always provide an accurate assessment with some solutions to help with the growth of the performers and conductors. In today’s “social media” world, your comments will quickly be available to the entire world. 

Our goal as adjudicators is to utilize the UIL rubrics to provide a fair and balanced critique of a band’s performance that points out flaws and accomplishment, guidance for advancement and reaffirmation of the value of music.