Accurate Gradings? - Record the Regionals, and help Adjudicators help the Bands

Discussion in 'The Adjudicators' Comments' started by The view from the Chair, Mar 16, 2011.

  1. I still believe that the Regional contests should be the sole basis for each Band's grading, but I have been to twelve years' Regionals, now, and when the day is done and the results announced there's two sets of comments that always arise. To put it diplomatically, there's the "I don't quite understand the reason behind these placings", and, "There's just not enough details in our remarks."

    A solution to both would come from recording all the Bands' performances (some contests already do) but letting the Adjudicators take the recordings away for comparison and to produce detailed appraisals. [ There are several threads on tMP (and a number of experts), which highlight the care to be taken when producing such recordings, and I would only suggest a direct comparison between Bands in their own Region's section. It would certainly need trialling alongside the current system to ensure that it was feasible. ]

    An advantage for the Adjudicators is that it would give them more time to pick out every point that they just can't physically write down in the 15 or so minutes of performance and waiting for the next Band. Another advantage is that they could play back performances as often as they need, and directly side-by-side compare performances or parts thereof to separate definitively every Band.

    An advantage for the Bands is that they would end up with far more detailed remarks; and pointers for improvement; plus a recording of their performance. Another advantage is that there would be a possibility for the Adjudicators to produce a summing up of the positions with a brief comment about why the Band placed 1st was put above the 2nd because.....,and the Band placed 2nd was put above the 3rd because......, and even if such a summary was not produced, the extra time available for deliberation over the placings can only add to everyone's confidence in them.

    A big disadvantage of this system would be that no results could be issued on the day, but as the Regional contests are the the only contests important to every single competing Band because of the grading implications I believe that this system should be implemented for the Regional contests alone.

    No placings being announced would mean that a Region's cups/banners/cheques could not be awarded on contest day. These could be presented, for example, either at a Regional awards ceremony/A.G.M./dinner etc. or at a 'parade of champions' at the National finals of each section.

    However, I would propose that at least one adjudicator is at each section of each contest as normal. They could still award any solo etc. prizes ( as these don't affect the gradings ). They could also issue 1 guaranteed "invitation" to the Finals to the Band they regard as the best performing of the day. In a lot of cases this would be a Band that qualifies when the full placing list is announced, but when it is not it would add a wildcard element to the Finals.
  2. Bayerd

    Bayerd Active Member

    Very good. I take it your band is willing to stump up the entrance fee for this?
  3. robcav

    robcav Member

    What? No results on the day? What about the drama, the sense of expectation, the agony and the ecstasy, the joy and incredulity?
    I totally agree with and support your suggestion that all Area contests should follow Yorkshire's lead and record all performances. However, I don't think this should be done for the purposes of retrospective adjudication. Adjudicators sit in the box because they are considered to be experienced musicians who are capable of hearing a number of performances and judging their relative merits on a number of levels. If they can't do it at the time, they shouldn't be doing it at all. They are employed to make a decision so let's let them get on and make it on the day. What would be the point in them turning up at all if we were going to ask them to make their final decisions based on recordings they can listen to on their car stereos? I don't even like those calls to the third umpire for LBW decisions that have become a feature of international cricket, and music performances are hardly as 'hit or miss' as that.
    One way in which recordings may be of interest and of use to the adjudicators and their Association is in providing an opportunity to compare the variety of interpretations of winning performances across areas, particularly for 'training' purposes for the future crop of adjudicators (if such a thing goes on!). I wonder how much discussion actually goes on between all adjudicators adjudcating a particular section throughout the areas about their expectations of performances of test pieces prior to these contests and whether they enter the box with open minds, with purely personal preferences and preconceptions, or with a broadly agreed set of expectations.
  4. euphalogy

    euphalogy Member

  5. JR

    JR Member

    In our case - plenty of discussion

    Hi Rob

    In our case this year (myself and Phil Harper) plenty of prior discussion at considerable length and phone bill as I mentioned from the stage.

    In my opinion such discussions are essential in formulating a strategy and agreeing an approach.

    John R

    P.S see you Monday (I'm oop North)
  6. Al

    Al Member

    In an effort to make adjudication better and more accountable, I would like to see more bands publish their remarks sheet. Maybe tmp could designate an area for this. I listened to half a dozen bands in one particular section and although I would not largely disagree with the results I would like to see the adjudicator's comments.

    I think this would further open up discussion and maybe help the adjudicators to sharpen their pencils a little more.
  7. Mr_Chairman

    Mr_Chairman Member

    I am not convinced that a more detailed appraisal of a band's performance is of any use. The adjudicator(s) is(are) measuring a performance on the day - many bands leave their best performance in ther bandroom and the tempos and splits are a consequence of the day and a different environment.
  8. jackocorn

    jackocorn Member

    How about their use for moderation purposes?

    a. Moderation of adjudicators to make sure they are using the same standards across contests.
    b. Moderation of bands in different areas to make sure bands are in the correct section (Nationally).

    Bit controversial?
  9. Mattytheshark

    Mattytheshark Member

    Sorry. I don't believe this is what bands need (or want). A long as adjudication is a matter of one bloke's opinion then having all night to think about it is not necessary.

    I also believe that more detail in remarks is not necessary most of the time. It's when remarks don't bear any resemblance to your performance that you get wound up. Again, if the adjudicator can mix them up in 15 mins then we'd be in real trouble if he took them away!!
  10. ploughboy

    ploughboy Active Member

    Hi JR,

    How would you feel if you were asked to share your strategy and approach before the day? I know you spent time making sure you were both on the same song sheet, and it was great to hear from the stage. So, having gone to those lengths would it then be fair to inform the bands of your thinkings. . .

    I don't just mean you & Phil personally, but all adjudicators in the run up to a contest.
  11. northsaints21

    northsaints21 New Member

    Can't quite see the reasoning here. Surely the idea of a contest is that each band competes on the day, on a level playing field and that the adjudicator does 'exactly what it says on the tin'. I am all for technology in sport, but music? I believe that the adjudicator should have license to judge as he / she sees fit and that the old adage 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder' should remain. Otherwise, why not send in a recording for adjudication and forget about the coontest experience altogether? A very tight rope me thinks!

    Sure, we don't all agree with the adjudicators all of the time,... some of the time,... any of the time... but ,who, in their right mind would stand up and criticise someone like the sorely missed Peter Parkes, in his adjudication?

    However, one gripe that I do have, as a second section band member in the Lonson and Southern is, why do we only have one adjudicator? If it is down to cost, then I am sure that band's would gladly stump up an extra few quids to get the same adjudication as the vast majority?
  12. robcav

    robcav Member

    I would have expected no less John and it's credit to you both for your thorough preparation. Looking back, I don't think I expressed my point on this matter clearly enough in my initial comment. Whilst you, and other adjudicating pairs who were fortunate enough to share a box in Yorkshire, had the opportunity to discuss your approach with a colleague prior to and on the day because you knew you were adjudicating together, I wondered whether meetings of all adjudicators (especially those who would be in glorious isolation in other Area contests) took place to at least debate, if not agree on, the kind of "strategy" and "approach" which you suggest is necessary? I appreciate that any winning performance is always relative to every other performance and that there are many musical facets to consider, but take for example the issue of tempo - have there ever been discussions amongst all the chosen adjudicators to decide whether, in principle, they would, let's say, favour a safe, under tempo but clean approach or a less precise but faithful to the tempo performance? What I'm really asking is how do we achieve consistency of adjudicating approaches across all areas so we don't end up with one band in one area being criticised for playing cleanly but under tempo whist another band in another area is praised for the very same clean but under tempo performance?
  13. NervyBsMD

    NervyBsMD Member

    Surely the only way to get that is to have the same people adjudicating the same Section in all Areas.

    I agree with a previous poster who said that we shouldn't try to prevent Adjudicators from judging according to what they hear on the day, and just accept that is how it is. After all, we don't vet our audiences for concerts to check how they want things played - we just aim to deliver good performances in all cases and accept that different pieces will mean different things to each person.

    That's one of the variables in music performance that makes it what it is, otherwise we will end up with homogenous renditions of the same piece. It would be like asking a group of painters to enter a competition to see who can copy the Mona Lisa in the most accurate and precise way. Far better that we asked them to paint their own interpretation of the masterpiece and see what their individual creative abilities can produce.

    Long live the freedom for a band and an MD to produce their own individual performance - and be recognised for doing so, either for good or otherwise!
  14. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    Were there not some pre-area workshops held were the said usual suspects of Adjudicators attended?
  15. Elliebone

    Elliebone Member

    I am sure this must have been suggested/considered before, but publishing adjudication criteria and splitting marks between those criteria would help achieve some kind of consistency. At the risk of trying to make an art into a science, this is done in other walks of life for live assessment of skills. In my previous line of work I regularly sat and adjudicated 40 advocacy "performances" in a day, marking them live, awarding marks in various categories and providing written feedback to those being assessed. To ensure consistency of approach between me and my colleagues, all performances were videod and anything borderline was reviewed by an external assessor. Some aspects of this process could surely be incorporated into brass band competition - starting with the agreement of a breakdown of marks between different aspects of the performance. It may be that the criteria would be differently constituted in lower sections than higher sections - for example you wouldn't expect to see as many errors of intonation at the top end as in the fourth section, therefore it may be appropriate to weight the factors accordingly.

    I suggest that it would help bands and MDs to prepare if they knew in advance what proportion of the points would be allowed for interpretation, technique, dynamics, tuning, balance etc.

    I am not saying this would be easy to implement - but at least some degree of consistency might be achieved.

    Phew...I feel better for getting that lot off my chest!
  16. NervyBsMD

    NervyBsMD Member

    A significant point made by the Adjudicators of the Third Section, Midlands Area, was that, whilst all band made a good effort at the fiendish tarantella movement, many achieved this at the cost of a lack of attention to the other, relatively easier, outer movements. Those bands that ensured they gave balanced attention to the whole piece won the prizes.

    My reason for saying this is that I believe that often the mistake, particularly in lower sections, is to fail to step back and assess to overall performance of a test piece, due to too much attention being paid to what the MD believes to be the parts to which the Adjudicator might pay the most attention.

    In the Second Section, again in the Midlands Area, a number of bands clearly worked hard on the detail of Resurgam, but their final performance, whilst accurate, was cold and soulless, and that, I believe, ultimately cost them points.

    To use the painting analogy once again - it is possible for an artist to get so close to the picture in order to get accuracy on the smallest detail, that it is only when they stand back and look at the whole thing that they realise that, whilst it is accurate to the original, it lacks flair, individuality and creativity.

    It is a real danger of contesting that it can reduce us to nit-picking, detail freaks, and stop us being the creative, entertaining groups of musicians that we should be, bands that produce performances full of emotion, passion and soul.

  17. JR

    JR Member

    this thread

    Some well argued points on this thread - I'll take note.

    The suggestion of a pre-area moderating (or equivalent) conference is a good one

    JOhn R
  18. Thanks, guys. {Warning ! The above quotes may/may not have been taken out of context !!:wink::tongue::wink:}

    What? No support for goal line technology? I even remember the introduction of Cyclops on the service line at Wimbledon, and didn't Ilie Nastase have fun with that !
  19. The Adudicators' professional decisions are the ONLY ones that count. The rest of us just have an opinion/a debate/a view. When it comes to Gradings, I just want them to have every possible advantage/tool available, and give them a greater chance to give Bands "more explicit and helpful remarks". ( Under the 'Articles and Resources' tab is the article:'The role of the Adjudicator....' from which the following is quoted - "Four: The need for more explicit and helpful remarks.
    Answer: Bands should be aware that comments are written during the actual performance. Detailed comment is difficult, if not impossible, but remarks ought to reflect both the good and the bad elements of a performance. Often, the first person to read the remarks is the adjudicator, who may need to refer to them in the later stages of the contest. 'Untidy at C' may not convey the full picture to the band but will help the adjudicator as he or she tries to 'place' the band in the correct order. ABBA does not subscribe to the view held in some quarters that written remarks are superfluous to requirements. They are a valuable reference to assist greatly in establishing an order of merit. ABBA also feels that bands are entitled to have access to the thoughts of the adjudicator – whether or not they agree with them! It should be the aim of adjudicators to be constructive and encouraging in their comments." )

    True, but the more feedback you get the better you are able to prepare for the next time.

    Totally agree.

    Four of the 'Performance Assessment Criteria' on the Association of Brass Band Adjudicators' website ( again under the 'Articles & Resources' tab) are :- Colour and general Band sound; Dynamics, expression and shape; Inspiration; Musical understanding.

    Plenty of room for different interpretations.

    The following three quotes are on the 'PUBLIC comparing of Contest Remarks' thread (

    I don't see any harm in recordings either. Just good.

    To me, that is interesting.

    This is the big drawback of my support for recording the Regionals to assist the grading process, but for just one competition a year the trade-off would be Gradings delivered with an extra level of consideration.
  20. [OCUK]Kitchster_uk

    [OCUK]Kitchster_uk New Member

    The non-starter for me on the recording front it that the adjudicators would then be fully aware of the draw and can be accused of bias, either for or against Bands. Whether or not they were is not relevant. they might as well watch the performance and announce the bands by name.

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