Open debate about the standard of adjudication

Discussion in 'The Adjudicators' Comments' started by johnflugel, Mar 22, 2004.

  1. johnflugel

    johnflugel Active Member

    I would like to open a new debate on the adjudication and the standards of performance from the people who judge performances, opinions that shape the very fabric of the band movement.

    I got to thinking about this as I left the London and S&C Championship Section last night. Was I the only one who found Roy Roe's comments utterly patronising though?

    I know that the London S&C is not considered as a 'strong' area of banding standard-wise: but his comments in my view would not have been out of place at a kids variety contest at Butlins. I mean comments to the effect of 'all the bands gave it a good go', 'I have been pleasantly surprised by the standard down here' and his comments with regards to secondary soloists such as 2nd bari, 2nd horn, Bb Tuba (vareiety club wey heys after everyone was announced!) etc were embarrassing.

    I look at some of the guys judging our area contests, it makes me question the whole process of adjudication selection when the we continously have gentleman who have been doing it for so very long. Look at the average age of the guys judging our top section, bet my bottom dollar that is not below 60.

    I personally would love to see people like James Watson, David King, Ian Bousfield, Martin Winter, Peter Graham, Stephen Cobb, Ron Holz, Torgny Hanson (no relation of Alan), Bram Tovey, Rod Franks etc be in the box. Maybe these guys have been asked already, I do not know.

    Lastly, do adjudicators all have to be members of the association to be a judge. If so, that is a little odd...I mean's like saying Alex Ferguson or Bobby Robson not having a coaching badge cannot manage their teams when people like Vialli and Reid have :shock:

    Thoughts please?
  2. lynchie

    lynchie Active Member

    it has been said by people who are very well respected in our wonderful brass band world that the standard of adjudication at the moment is at it's lowest point in history. I'm not sure if that might be an exaggeration, but it does seem to be pretty poor and inconsistent. There are a few good adjudicatiors out there, it's just unfortunate that the others are too proud to take a leaf out of their books.
  3. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    'Then, said adjudicator/s issue a missive to all competing bands to still (obviously) give them some free licence with interpretation, but give guides as to what he or she will be looking for, different balances required in different areas of the piece/s; how he/she would like certain phrases shaped; how he/she does NOT want to hear certain phrases shaped; whether he/she is a metronome marking stickler or is quite willing to allow a certain amount of bpm leeway if the performance convinces, etc. etc. '

    Not forgetting the vital importance of good intonation! ;-)
  4. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    PS. I do realise, amongst all what I've said, that it is a thankless task! If I had the reuqired skills, I'd probably like to have a go.... until the brickbats come flying in afterwards! ;-)
  5. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Oh dear. Instead of adding abit to my first post, I obliterated most of it..! Probably a good thing, too!

  6. Borfeo

    Borfeo Member

    I have to say that as a conductor I wouldn't like to see adjudicators passing out sheets beforehand outlining what they want from a piece of music. IMHO I conduct a piece of music, whether it be on the contest stage or the concert stage, to my own specifications. Obviously I'll be far more rigid to the score if I'm competing at a contest, but for me to be dictated to by an adjudicator beforehand would take a lot of my own personality from the music, and I think I would lose a lot of my enthusiasm.....nobody wants to see 10 identically shaped performances.

    I would say that the adjudicator should have set criteria to adhere to, and not have as much of a free reign as he/she has now. If he/she was made to adress a few set areas then it may lead to more consistent marking, right now it seems as though the markings are weighted towards one aspect, rather than the overall view.
  7. Accidental

    Accidental Supporting Member

    FWIW, I thought Roy Roe's comments were positive and encouraging and didn't feel in the least bit patronised. Maybe I missed something, but I thought he seemed pleasantly surprised that all the bands in a "weaker" area managed to make a good job of a tough piece, and in the context of his comments that noone can hide, I thought singling out those players who don't normally get solos was a nice touch.

    Just shows how different people's perceptions can be! :wink:
  8. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    With all due respect, before I inadvertently deleted most of my original post, I didn't say anything relating to '10 identically shaped performances' or the like. I DID say, however, that they should issue their missives obviously giving some leeway for conductor's interpretation. I meant my suggestion to be used as a guide, not criteria to be adhered to from bar 1 to the end.

    Your last paragraph is roughly the sort of missive I'd like to see from an adjudicator!
  9. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    Whilst I wasn't there to hear the remarks made on the Sunday, I was at Stevenage on the Saturday, and heard most of the 1st section and all the 2nd section bands. What I found quite interesting was the way both Dennis Wilby (2nd) and Roy Roe (1st) pin-pointed the need for bands to address the basics of playing together, and to my mind their observations were spot-on. Where many bands fell down wasn't in the blacker pages of the score but in the thinly-scored chamber music textures, where players were not together and where the sound produced was often lacking in depth of tone.

    The only point where I felt Roy Roe was more than a little patronising was in his refences to the role of the bass trombone in the opening of Coventry variations, and I wasn't the only one to react when he spoke of "one of the trio being an instrument not often featured in a solo role" (not his exact words, but the gist of what he was saying).

    In both sections, it was the bands that were successful in this that won the day, although I was a little surprised that neither adjudicator mentioned the lapses of intonation that were sometimes apparent, particularly in the cornet sections. In both sections the top couple of bands were very good, and Staines in particular drew a very positive response from the audience.
  10. Borfeo

    Borfeo Member

    Ah, a good example of two rants coming together to a satisfactory conclusion in the end :lol: I perhaps didn't read your post with a great amount of detail (Work has dragged my concentration down today), my apologies.

    I do quite like the current method of "second guessing" an adjudicator tho, I had good fun before the area listening to Frank Rentons recordings to get used to his thinking, and thought even at 4th section level, it really helped pull the result out the bag for us. It's a tricky one but personally i'd like the adjudicators to stay schtum before the contest, but be consistent contest to contest with their marking. Will it happen tho? Doubt it :evil:
  11. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    In any case. Now I've deleted it I'm not even sure what I said in the first place anyway! ( A feeling I'm familiar with... ;-))
  12. Borfeo

    Borfeo Member

    Ah well, we may never know now :wink:

    Just realised, we'll be up against each other at the Nationals! hopefully we'll share a few beers musing over a couple of top 3 placings :wink:
  13. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Sounds good to me! ;-)
  14. James Yelland

    James Yelland Active Member

    Oh dear, the adjudication debate merry-go-round - again. :roll:

    A few thoughts:

    1. Given that the adjudicator has no set of rules to refer to, he can do what he bloody well likes. You and I may think that good tuning, balance and intonation are desirable qualities in a performance, but we have no right to expect that an adjudicator thinks the same way. He may prefer poor tuning and untidy ensemble, and will be entirely within his rights to award prizes to bands exhibiting such qualities. Repeat after me - the adjudicator is NEVER wrong, no matter what anyone else thinks. In the absence of any rules governing him, he can do as he pleases. And if you don't like that, then don't attend the contest. You know the situation in advance. It's your choice.

    2. Any band which needs the comments or notes of an adjudicator to analyse their performance ought to sack their conductor, because that's what they (the conductor) gets paid to do.

    3. And in any case, how many bands act upon the adjudicator's notes, once the contest is over and done with? Virtually none, I would surmise. The successful bands will be able to analyse their deficiences for themselves (which is how they came to be successful in the first place). The unsuccessful bands will be busy feeling sorry for themselves and dismissing the adjudicator as a fool, an incompetent or worse (for evidence of this, see this thread or hundreds of others like it which appear on this bulletin board or in the letters pages of the blatts).

    Remember - all you get at the end of the day is one man's OPINION - and your OPINION is no worse, and no better, than his. There are no rights or wrongs in brass band contests, only opinions.
  15. cornetcheese

    cornetcheese Member

    I have to say, although I agree that adjudicators are inconsistent, I'm not really sure waht exactly could be done to remedy this in a constructive manner. Bear in mind, this debate doesn't apply only to brass bands, but I have heard musicans in many fields speak about inconsistency in judges of other competitions, auditions etc.

    I do not however believe that set criteria is a good solution though. Every musician listens to music in a different way and, as we all know, this means that people's opinions of what makes a good/bad performance differ from person to person. The only things which can be relied on in preparing for a contest are by ensuring that the basics of balance, intonation and ensemble are in place. These are perhaps the only areas which are not objective and, consequently, are what I assume all adjudicators listen for primarily, before giving wait to other areas, which can rest greatly on personal opinion.

    I don't think these areas of "basics" require to be set out as criteria by adjudicators, as surely every adjudicator listens for these as primary facets of music and every band is aware of them.

    Perhaps I'm being naive in my opinion, but judging music is based so much around personal opinion (which can differ from piece to piece and day to day) I don't see how an adjudicator could be too specific about what they want to hear? Surely that would only demonstrate a narrow-minded way of listening?
  16. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    In which case the tone of your response rather contradicts the points you make. So we're not allowed to have adverse opinions of adjudicators, huh? Might be better to think a little more in future before putting your thoughts down and clicking on the send button.
  17. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    PS. You refer to conductors getting paid. Some do, some don't. Most adjudicators get paid, or didn't you know that? Sorry to be so sarky but this 'repeat after me' crap sounds to me like you think you're some sort of expert, of which there aren't any others on this site (and I fervently include myself in that category). Who are you?
  18. HBB

    HBB Active Member

    I'm in agreement with you... although I was rather tired!!
  19. johnflugel

    johnflugel Active Member

    I am pleased that my thread has prompted such debate, althought less pleased I have two guys at eachothers throats. Dave and Jim...chill...I don't want to be responsible for you two killing one another :wink:

    We could debate for ever about what an adjudicator looks for, but was trying to provoke a discussion on getting some 'fresher' adjudicators and to debate whether it is a pre-requisite to have a NABBA 'certificate' before judging.

    What do you think about our present judges? Is age an issue? Is qualification an issue? Suggestions of musicians that could do the job in your eyes?

  20. Billy

    Billy New Member

    adjudicators debate

    Hi John,
    a question for you.Supposing Messrs. Watson, Graham and Winter had been in the box at the Open last September, do you think they would have come up with a different result or better result than the three who did actually sit in the box? It seems to me that looking at the rankings - the best bands (that most banders would agree to be the best bands), occupy the highest ranked places, they are put there by adjudicators. That said however, the federation of adjudicators owe it to themselves to 'remove' weak or poor adjudicators, that may not be an easy task for them but if they don't take responsibility for doing so - no one else will.
    By the way, Mr. watson gave a result at The grandshield a few years ago that raised more than a few eyebrows - you can't please everyone all of the time - especially I guess, if you're an adjudicator.
    (Just Billy, looking in from the outside these days.)

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