Adjudicators: The effects of age on hearing ability.

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Roger Thorne, May 29, 2006.


What do you think?

  1. Impose a retirement age

    2 vote(s)
  2. Compulsory hearing tests for adjudicators over 60

    5 vote(s)
  3. Compulsory hearing tests for all adjudicators

    16 vote(s)
  4. I'm happy with the current system

    4 vote(s)
  1. Roger Thorne

    Roger Thorne Active Member

    I have searched the internet and obtained the following interesting facts:
    There are several signs that you have hearing loss, a pertinent one being:
    Further facts for consideration are:
    Prompted by some of the ‘surprise’ results and inconsistencies we have had over the years at various band contests I wonder whether the hearing ability of our adjudicators could be to blame. Most adjudicators are fine, knowledgeable and respected people, but is their hearing as good as it was thirty years ago when they were in their prime as players and conductors?

    I appreciate this is a controversial matter, but should we consider imposing a retirement age for adjudicators? Or possibly suggest they undertake annual hearing tests?

    I look forward to your comments and suggestions.

  2. Drewdan

    Drewdan Member

    its a fair point, however, it said that people with hearing loss wouldnt be able to hear high frequencies, how low is this high frequency? are we talking about not actually being able to clearly hear a Sop player played there little tuney bits, or are we talking about cornets in the high registers not being heard clearly, and the adjudicator things they are just playing far to quietly. This would clearly effect the adjudicators ideas on how well the band was balanced. Perhaps adjudicators should be made to have hearing examinations before they are allowed to adjudicate competitions?
  3. Charmed

    Charmed Active Member

    Looks like at last we need to encourage more women audjudicators! :biggrin:
  4. Drewdan

    Drewdan Member

    that is very true:) and a good idea! or kick all the old men out? that would just be mean though!
  5. super_sop

    super_sop Supporting Member

    I would imagine that being stuck behind a curtain in a box would exagerate the problem aswell
  6. Drewdan

    Drewdan Member

    yeah the curtain would muffle the sound, i am not really quite sure why they have to be in a closed box. The worst i have seen is a wooden box that the adjudicators sat in, bet all the bands sounded superb when being heard listening to in a shed...
  7. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    I suppose annual compulsory hearing tests could be implemented, but we have to adapt to many sensory losses during our lifetime. I haven't seen many people criticise Evelyn Glennie as a musician because of her impairment (... and she has to 'listen' to other musicians who accompany her as well).
  8. Drewdan

    Drewdan Member

    thats true, i suppose you would adapt to the loss of hearing. But annual hearing tests would still be useful just to see how the hearing of the adjudicator is, and get rid of the boxes that the adjudicators have to sit in!!
  9. Roger Thorne

    Roger Thorne Active Member

    Evelyn Glennie is a fine example of how performing musicians are able to overcome hearing difficulties, but for those who adjudicate this is an entirely different issue.

    I have added a poll to help evaluate the views of tMP members.

  10. yorkyboy

    yorkyboy Member

    Middle C, concert pitch, has a frequency of 261.63 Hz. An octaveabove is 523.26 Hz and another octave above is 1046.52 Hz and if you really wanted to go another octave above that it would be 2093.04Hz.

    The range of human hearing at an infant is 20hz-20000hz. hearing can start to deteriate from an age of 10. By 40 most people have lost there top end hearing down to about 17000Hz. Therefore i really dont think that the adjudicators have too much too worry about.

    Music is confined to a very small range of the human ears hearing range.

    Acoustically we should be more concerned with the effect that putting an adjudicator in an enclosed box has on the listening ability
  11. John Brooks

    John Brooks Well-Known Member

    I think that says it well. At age 60, I'm certainly aware of a deterioration to my hearing. In addition I also have something called Tinitus which results in a constant ringing, so far only in my right ear. Very annoying at times and nothing can be done about it.

    There may be other aging factors that could influence an adjudicator (eg: attention span; memory) but this would vary from individual to individual and probably could not be adequately tested.

    Give them the (accoustically) best seats in the house and forget about the enclosure.
  12. daveredhead

    daveredhead Member

    the effects of age on hearing ability

    I believe in open adjudication, or two, but then there is cost,
    it has been suggested that sop players should be behind curtains, or in enclosed boxes but only from certain front row cornet players;) ;) see you soon mate

    TIMBONE Active Member

    I would like to explain the experience of not hearing high frequencies, as I have this affliction in my right ear (thank goodness that our hearing is sterophonic). It is not that you do not hear high pitches, (I am not speaking about severe hearing difficulties), it is more that they are not as precise. Each musical note has an infinite set of harmonics, and if your ear is unable to pick up as many as is 'normal', then the higher register can lose it's clarity a little. This is a valuable point Roger, which has made me think. Speaking from experience again, if I am listening to a full band for any length of time, I am aware that I may begin to miss things, not only in the high register either. The 'bad' ear is getting tired, (a bit like trying to read something if you need glasses but forgot to bring them, you can maybe manage for a while, then everything begins to blur and get more difficult). The knock on effect is that other things like tuning, balance, fast rhythms etc begin to merge and lose their clarity. So, imagine what it is like if you are listening intently to 10, 15 or 20 bands, behind a curtain as well!
  14. yorkyboy

    yorkyboy Member

    I agree Tim. I failed to mention in my post above that the harmonics of each note can stretch well into the upper ranges of the frequency limits.

    I do think though that the effect of sitting an adjudicator in a box is one of the most major issues though and I think the Brass Band authorities should comission some research into this. Of course as a trained audio technician/acoustician I would be more than willing to assist them in that course of action!! ;-)
  15. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Well-Known Member

    Annual hearing tests.
    Annual musical awareness tests - can they tell they difference between "open " and "muted"?.
    Annual competence tests?

    An MOT for adjudicators - if such a scheme was in place, it would not only reduce the possibility of certain adjudicators not being up to the job, but it might also reduce the "discussions" after each contest of whether the adjudicator could actually hear what was on stage.
    If it was compulsory, no adjudicator would feel singled out. Those that are already musically competent would probably have no issues about taking the test and those who kick up a fuss are probably those who shouldn't be in the box anyway (they probably have something to hide).
  16. BeatTheSheep

    BeatTheSheep Member

    So if all this was put in place, everyone would agree with their results?
  17. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    I would agree with what Mike has eluded to there. Personally, I'd suggest a form of annual adjudicators license that once obtained through a pragmatic assessment, has to be maintained throughout the time that person wants to be an adjudicator. I initially proposed such a system and wrote about it in my article here. Here's a relevant extract;

    Adjudicators are indeed musicians, and with music being subjective – the process of how one adjudicates is extremely difficult to quantify. I don’t feel we can ever move away from the subjectivity being the most significant facet of a result, but there are things the movement could embrace to make the job easier.

    If there were a process in place that defined exactly what adjudication standards should be; that assessed an individuals ability to reach and maintain these standards via some form of accreditation, a process that monitored these standards throughout our movement, and finally ensured that a mechanism for feedback and evaluation existed… (I.e. that the feedback loop worked) - the role of the adjudicator would become significantly enriched by the fact that faith in the adjudicator, from those who are judged, would be significantly restored. How do bandsmen and bandswomen of today play a part in the selection of adjudicators – and by this I do not simply mean the selection of who should adjudicate at a specific contest, but in the selection of an individual actually becoming an adjudicator? I doubt such a process exists, but I suggest that there very much should be. Why does the ABBA not set up an evaluation process that asks for feedback of the adjudicators performance to be provided by each competing band or a representative of them, after each contest? These results could be managed by the ABBA and made available to our local regional associations. Aided by the band members they represent, a far superior set of criteria on adjudicators could be presented from which they could choose who should receive their invite to judge. I don’t purport to have all the answers, but would this not be a step in the right direction?

    Wouldn't this be a fantastic step forward yeah? Thoughts...?
  18. Drewdan

    Drewdan Member

    thats a pretty good idea! and its true everyone adjudicates in a different way!
  19. BrianT

    BrianT Member


    I'd give much more weight to an adjudicator's views if I heard them play and thought they were good. How about getting the adjudictor to play a solo to the massed bandsmen before giving their comments on the day's playing?
    But having said that, there seem to be people who will go to considerable lengths to blame someone else if the results aren't the way they want. They blame early draw, late draw, adjudicator is a mason, adjudicator is hearing impaired, adjudicator knows who we are and marks us down, stage too hot, too acoustically dry, valve stuck, music too hard. And so on. I'd much sooner hear people say "I haven't practised enough so my playing was not good enough compared to the other bands". A much more honest approach.
  20. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    I think its fair to say that most, if not all better known adjudicators have either played or conducted at the highest level. That doesn't mean to say that "have it" as an adjudicator though...

    I think thats pretty true of anything where people are judged. I work with someone who, no matter what it is, its never his fault and he can always do it better than someone else. Its funny how he keeps on making the same cock-ups on project after project. Anyone heard of learning from your mistakes? If you don't recognise a mistake on your own part first, how can you then go about making sure you don't do the same thing again?

    Anyway back on topic - although it has echos of "get your eyes tested referee" I would go for a hearing test, and some sort of musical appreciation test, as TrumpetMike has suggested. It seems an entirely sensible solution to me, and as such has no chance whatsoever of actually being implemented.

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