Judging of marching band competitions

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hurt-a Offline
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Judging of marching band competitions

Posted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 1:06 pm



I teach the percussion section of a marching band in Northeast Ohio and we just had our first contest last night. I am quite upset with the judging situation. First off, the only field judge last night was the percussion judge. Seems like there should be more. To make it worse, the percussion judge hardly moved. He never even went to the back of the field, let alone in the battery's face to get an accurate sampling of where the kids are. This clearly poses a couple issues

1. The educators of the band recieve less than usable input on where to go with the show next

2. It unevens the playing field. If the judge is on the front sideline the whole show, how can he accurately give scores? The battery could be on fire but he can't get the whole picture. Not to mention that there is a ton of environmental demand in a lot of shows and the credit that drumline's deserve when they achieve clarity isn't given.

I know a few people here are educators in the same area. Is this an issue at most events? My 4 years of HS marching band had the same issue. I think there was 1 judge in 4 years that actually got in front of the battery. To those of you in other states, same question. Are the judges of your state held contests actively out on the field?
Legends DBC Front Ensemble
2013- Aux
2014- Vibraphone
2015- Marimba
Spirit Snare 80 wrote:Cowbell- "WHACK-WHACK-WHACK-WHACK"......Spaaaalat. "Cut!" Do it again!


Isaiah.Lamb Offline
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Re: Judging of marching band competitions

Posted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 3:04 pm



'tis one of the flaws of any marching competition. It is frustrating but I think it happens everywhere. Certainly the judge should be giving a good effort to see both sections of the percussion, and I think the judge you are talking about is wrong in the respect. Actually, I find it quite odd that the judges you have stay at the sideline; I feel like most judges give more attention to the battery. With that being said, you actually can get a decent read of the battery from the sideline. Obviously it's not the best, but you can definitely tell if the battery is playing clean notes or not. Also, on the sideline the judge can listen more to the sound of the whole ensemble, and I believe that is really important as well--drums are still a part of the band, not their own show. Your complaint is reasonable, but it's the way it is. Even in DCI people complain about that judging system and how it's not efficient enough. In fact, here's a nice link with a whole forum of trying to solve this problem. http://www.drumcorpsplanet.com/forums/i ... %2Bjudging


joe356 Offline
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Re: Judging of marching band competitions

Posted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 9:46 pm



As someone who judges high school percussion, I'll tell you this.

The reason drum corps judges can get right in front of the lines is because they have seen the shows a few times. Early in the season, the percussion judges are kept in the box until they are familiar enough with the drill to know where to go. Some judges are known to put together drill charts for themselves so that they know where they can move safely.

The reason the NEED to get right in front of the lines is because the caliber of percussion groups is really high across the board. All of the groups are playing at a high level, so the level of scrutiny is much higher.

High school band is a different game. Hornlines are half woodwinds, and generally don't produce nearly the same amount of sound, making it much easier to hear clarity from the battery from the sidelines. It also affords the judge the opportunity to sample both sections. I have more complaints about percussion judges who pay no attention to the front ensemble than I do about guys who don't chase the battery down. Judging a bunch of bands on a first read, it can be dangerous to get too close. Often high school drill is written poorly, and executed at a lower level, making predicting where you'll have safe space pretty difficult. Couple that with the fact that the disparity between groups at your average high school band show is considerably larger than that of a drum corps show, and you can see why a judge might make the decision to stay on the track more often. I try to get out on the field when I see an opportunity, but the fact is, I can't predict a run away rifle, or a missed direction change, so I'm unlikely to get too close for the sake of my own safety. The fact is, unless you're in southern California, the rank and spread are based much more on things you can evaluate from a distance (quality of sound, clarity in open rhythms, foot timing, balance, blend, pulse control) than it is about who ticked more triplet rolls. I judged a show this weekend with some really strong high school percussion sections. None of them were clean enough to need me right in front of them to offer them helpful commentary.

As someone who teaches a bunch of places, I can tell you that some of the most valuable commentary I've gotten from a high school percussion judge was actually from the box. I'd encourage you to listen to the commentary and worry less about where the judge was standing.


hurt-a Offline
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Re: Judging of marching band competitions

Posted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 11:06 pm



joe356 wrote:As someone who judges high school percussion, I'll tell you this.

The reason drum corps judges can get right in front of the lines is because they have seen the shows a few times. Early in the season, the percussion judges are kept in the box until they are familiar enough with the drill to know where to go. Some judges are known to put together drill charts for themselves so that they know where they can move safely.

The reason the NEED to get right in front of the lines is because the caliber of percussion groups is really high across the board. All of the groups are playing at a high level, so the level of scrutiny is much higher.

High school band is a different game. Hornlines are half woodwinds, and generally don't produce nearly the same amount of sound, making it much easier to hear clarity from the battery from the sidelines. It also affords the judge the opportunity to sample both sections. I have more complaints about percussion judges who pay no attention to the front ensemble than I do about guys who don't chase the battery down. Judging a bunch of bands on a first read, it can be dangerous to get too close. Often high school drill is written poorly, and executed at a lower level, making predicting where you'll have safe space pretty difficult. Couple that with the fact that the disparity between groups at your average high school band show is considerably larger than that of a drum corps show, and you can see why a judge might make the decision to stay on the track more often. I try to get out on the field when I see an opportunity, but the fact is, I can't predict a run away rifle, or a missed direction change, so I'm unlikely to get too close for the sake of my own safety. The fact is, unless you're in southern California, the rank and spread are based much more on things you can evaluate from a distance (quality of sound, clarity in open rhythms, foot timing, balance, blend, pulse control) than it is about who ticked more triplet rolls. I judged a show this weekend with some really strong high school percussion sections. None of them were clean enough to need me right in front of them to offer them helpful commentary.

As someone who teaches a bunch of places, I can tell you that some of the most valuable commentary I've gotten from a high school percussion judge was actually from the box. I'd encourage you to listen to the commentary and worry less about where the judge was standing.
Those are good points, thanks.
Legends DBC Front Ensemble
2013- Aux
2014- Vibraphone
2015- Marimba
Spirit Snare 80 wrote:Cowbell- "WHACK-WHACK-WHACK-WHACK"......Spaaaalat. "Cut!" Do it again!


Spirit Snare 80 Offline
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Re: Judging of marching band competitions

Posted: Mon Oct 06, 2014 2:57 am



Hurt-a,

I have judged band contests for 30 years in Alabama, in addition to several contests in Florida and Tennessee.
Most contests give the percussion judge the option of either being stationed on the front sideline or in the
stands with the band and guard judges. Recently I have opted for the stands because I believe I can give better
feedback to the band directors since I get a better read on the overall picture. I also believe that I can give a
pretty decent tape concerning cleanliness (or not) when it comes to execution. I will say that it's difficult in the
upper classes when the brass lines get loud, so I tend to give the lines the benefit of the doubt in those cases.
Band directors would probably freak out if I stepped onto the playing field and followed their drummers around.
Things have changed over the years though. There was a time when I would go out on to the field, but now we
tend to step back to get the total picture. As a side note, I judged a contest last Saturday where I had to judge
the battery and the pit using separate sheets so we could award a best in class battery and a best in class pit.
Talk about difficult. It turned out fine.
Husband, Dad, Music Educator, Drummer


awakentosleep Offline
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Re: Judging of marching band competitions

Posted: Tue Oct 07, 2014 11:03 am



You can't, nor should you, judge drum corps and high school marching band the same way. Different in every way, not the least of which being the context in which either ensemble exists. Yes, they are both educational environments, and both are competitive, but the balance of those two things shifts enormously between groups and between idioms.


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