If you were adjudicating a lower section contest.....

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Dave Payn, Aug 25, 2004.

  1. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    What would you look out for? What would you let go? What would you pick up on and point out/criticize?

    This is purely a 'curiosity' thing, not intended to spark a heated debate, nor should it be used as a vehicle for slagging off adjudicators. This, I should add, is NOT connected to Fulham's imminent appearance at Harrogate. It's simply an idea that struck me after many years of seeing/hearing different adjudicators for lower section contests, seemingly (according ONLY to my ears, of course) looking for different things.

    My personal (and nothing more than that) outlook - bear in mind I accept I'm not a qualified adjudicator - is to look for

    (a) balance and intonation. I tend to find that if you consistently achieve the former, (i.e. melodies and focal points in prominence, accompaniments balanced but not over powering etc.) a lot of the latter will happen anyway.

    (b) Tempi, within reasonable limits, not too fussed if the band in question can make a convincing performance whether it's close to the printed tempi or a few bpm out. I listen to recordings of top bands, orchestras, ensembles and tempi never stay the same, even if marked as such, as conductors aren't metronomes!

    (c) Individual mistakes and splits - again, we're talking lower section level, so these are to be expected, even amongst the winning or qualifying bands, but if the balance, intonation (I am convinced you cannot give a musical performance without these two being a major factor) and the sense and flow of 'performance' from start to finish are achieved, (allowing for a few splits/slips) as opposed to sounding like it's being performed in 'small sections' like the rehearsal. I personally wouldn't consider giving prizes to bands who are technically fairly accurate but are beset by problems in the balance and intonation department.

    Now you know why I'm not a qualified adjudicator.... ;-) :) Over to you, folks!
  2. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    I would obviously award marks to any band playing a test piece written by me. :D
  3. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    Hmmm. What would I look for?:


    • Good overall performance in line with my feelings about the piece.
      Good balance and intonation.
      Good control of dynamic range and tempo by the conductor
      Solid Bass section :)

    • Good control of technical demands
      As few splits/fluffs as possible for the section concerned
      Clarity of runs/arps
      Accuracy in reading the notation (i.e. no busking!)
      Shaping of phrases and breathing in lyrical sections

    • Convincing performance
      Committed performance (not timid in the quiet bits!)
      Some sign of the conductor's interpretation of the composer's intentions
    Not in any real order. No intention to start an argument. Just mMy HO
  4. Okiedokie of Oz

    Okiedokie of Oz Active Member

    OK, so maybe this isn't the order I'd consider things, but it's what I do take into consideration when I am making my own opinions, and I usually match most adjudicators.

    * Tone
    I am not chasing an A grade (champ section) sound, but I would like it to be full, and round, not raspy and/or airy.

    * Cohesion
    I would prefer to mark the group, not a few standouts within the band.

    * Rhythm
    Are basic rhythm patterns steady, or rushed/faked? Do they flow, or are they forced? DOES IT WORK?

    * Dynamic contrast.
    I love variety and effort

    * Articulation
    as above. I would like to see a band make a good show at playing very dot on the page.

    Mispitching I would let go to a degree, unless it ruined the performance, or the band reeked of it. Tuning in a lower section I would like to see being consciously attempted, even if errors slip in. Sops can be out (well they usually are!!) but hopefully a controlled out, not anything too drastic!

    One thing I won't tolerate is musicians who hide. If you are playing a part that requires you to have some guts, then get some or get moved to 2nd horn/cornet/baritone/Bb Bass. If you aren't playing a part, still make an effort to blend with your team.

    I don't ask much, but what I do ask for is rather simplistic, and if I get what I ask for everyone benefits. This is how I run my rehearsals also, and although I've only contested once as a conductor, I did rather well so I can't be too far off the mark!
  5. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    I didn't fink we 'ad any 'arps in t' brass band :oops:
  6. Slightly off topic but can anyone explain to me why it is that in lower sections (certainly in 4th but not sure in others) adjudicators will not mention that a band has no percussion section but will mark down a band that has a percussion section who make mistakes. This to me seems inherently unfair and offers no encouragement to novice drummers to begin brass band playing, never mind acknowledging the amount of work put in by these players for the contest as against bands who, for one reason or another, don't bother.
  7. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    Have you been on the blue pop again Mr Bale :roll: You know you shouldn't have any e numbers at your age! :lol:

    arpeggios :!: :p
  8. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    You can't be marked down just because you haven't got/can't afford something. However, you can be marked down if your player is not OK on the day.

    Don't forget, in a closed box contest the adjudicator doesn't know your circumstances and probably doesn't care. In some instances it might be better not to field a percussionist if he's going to let himself down on the day.

    BTW, you've probably got a very rare thing there - a sensitive percussionist. Nurture him! :lol:
  9. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Assumptions, assumptions... He's female... ;-) :) :lol:
  10. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    :oops: :oops: Sorry! It's OK Naomi, I'll take my tablets now. I will write 100 times "Don't assume people who hit things are always boys" Ouch! Ouch!
  11. IYOUNG

    IYOUNG Member

    How much emphasis do you guys place on Tuning / Intonation in the marking? Naturally in a 4th Section band ( and others for that matter! ) this is a difficult area which in inevitably needs improving however sometimes I feel we get so bogged down with it we miss the overall picture.

    I'm a big beleiver in committed playing and producing a confident performance and perhaps sometimes overlook intonation / tuning to a certain degree.

    I will be entering the 4th section conducting scene very shortly so any advise most welcome
  12. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Ha ha! 100 times?? 500 at least! :) ;-)

    (I jest, Mike - it was me who assumed Sam Atherton was male! :))

    As for our female percussionist, Asako, she's a real find. She's come over from Japan for a couple of years (I believe) to study, and is not only an extremely gifted percussionist but apparently very good in the back massage department. Isn't she Paul? ;-)
  13. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    I think it boils down to how much it affects the overall performance. If the intonation is so bad that you spend your time wincing through the performance then you couldn't, in all honesty, give a high mark for that aspect, but if the performance isn't spoiled by the intonation, and it's just the occasional tuning faults, then it shouldn't affect the marks too much.

    If you can hear that the players know they are out of tune and are trying to do something about it, then you add that into your deliberations.

    It's about taking a balanced view and maybe having a sliding scale that depends on the level of the bands you are listening to.
  14. Despot

    Despot Member

    It really depends but for lower sections, IMHO, leave it out if he or she is only going to get it totally wrong! Nothing does quite as much damage as a renegade percussionist! :D

    Contests are great for developing players, but "acknowledging the amount of work put in by these players for the contest" is your bands job, not the adjudicators! :D I understand and appreciate what you're saying, but he's only there to pick a winner! If bands are only allowed win contests only because of the quantity of their percussion equipment, why even leave the bandroom, just send in a photo! :lol:

    It's the overall performance that matters! :)
  15. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    Personally, I would rate tuning and intonation as being very important, whatever level the band is. How often do we here reasonable performances really let down by horendous tuning? It's all very well learning each individual part, with its rhythmic intricacies etc, but if you don't then play it in tune, and together with the rest of the band, I don't see how you can expect much credit.

    To my mind, too much emphasis tends to be placed on the technical side of things, and not enough on tunefulness (and producing a pleasing, balanced sound).
  16. iggmeister

    iggmeister Member

    I always thought the main thing to listen out for is the quality of the rustle of the notes contained in the brown envelope....


    Tuning the the main thing I listen for in lower section bands. Good intonation improves the band sound.

    Tempo doesn't matter that much so long as is not too far off the mark. I am one for performance as opposed to strict adherance to the score (although that is a debate in itself). Nothing worse than hearing every band sound the same. I'm all for individuality.

    I would also place more emphasis on ensemble as opposed to quality soloists although the latter will obviously have some impact.

  17. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Hear, hear!
  18. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    Introduction? Please :)
  19. sparkling_quavers

    sparkling_quavers Active Member

    I agree Peter. We are all adjudicators to some sort of level (whether qualified or not) when we sit and listen to bands at a contest.

    I don't think the odd split is that important (unless they are all over the place). The teamwork aspects are what can be missing in lower level banding- i.e hearing is the solo cornets blowing their heads off, only half the band making a cresendo, players not listening to intonation. Also everything being played at mf makes music sound boring and not finishing together can ruin an otherwise good performance.

    The main things I think are important are:

    sound of the band, teamwork aspects such are intonation, balance, start and finish of notes/phrases and controlled/uniform use of style markings/dynamics

    also important: soloist style, sound quality and confidenance, accuracy of technical bits, dynamic range, shaping and interpretation by the conductor.
  20. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    The thing is, though, would you really expect a 4th section band to be as well in tune as a 3rd, or a 3rd to be as well in tune as a 2nd?

    By the time you get to 2nd section, I would agree that there should be no intonation or tuning problems to speak of, and any such should be hammered.

    Quite a few 4th section bands have a lot of young, inexperienced players, or are 'junior' bands who have started contesting. I don't think you can necessarily expect them to have as developed an ear as more experienced players?

Share This Page