Adjudication criteria

jb photoProbably the most important question that I hear at festivals and eisteddfods revolves around the perceivably unknown……

What does the adjudicator want?

The answer is always determined by the quality of the ensemble preparation. Issues’ pertaining to achieving optimal percussion balance (particularly snare & bass drum) is always invariably unknown in differing environments. Conductors are always encouraged to prepare their percussionists with a series of signals for immediate ‘on stage’ alterations. This also empowers our tremendously important section- Our percussionists!!!

Here is a simple ‘short list’ that I abide by at all levels.

  1. All halls are different so conductors must do their research.
  2. The players must always attend their rehearsals. Never cancel a rehearsal!
  3. Percussionists should always take the stage first, as to personalise their needs.
  4. Listen and look up always. Trust me it works….
  5. Enjoy the performance, it always helps!

Now for the main criteria:

1. Ensemble Sound

  • Blend & Balance: Within & Between the Sections
  • The importance of GOOD QUALITY (Best Quality) individual tone to enhance the overall ensemble sound.

2. Accuracy/ Composers Instructions & Intentions

  • Rhythm
  • Dynamics – A full range of dynamics within & between the ensemble.
  • Phrasing – Beginning and ENDS of phrases. Breathing together at the beginning of phrases.
  • Articulation – Note that these vital instructions are observed
  • Correct note values!

3. Repertoire Choice

  • ALWAYS highlight the strengths of your Band/ Ensemble

4. Intonation

  • ALWAYS work to ‘match sounds/ pitch’ within and between the sections
  • Individual intonation/ tuning/ correct notes etc….
  • Accuracy of intonation within & between the sections

5. Interpretation

  • Getting the notes ‘Off the page’ – make music!
  • Excitement
  • Passion
  • Musicianship

IMPORTANT FACTS – For Young Bands/ Orchestras & Ensembles:

  1. ENTHUSIASM towards ‘Ensemble Music’
  2. BLEND OF TONE – Melodic Line instruments with the same lines/ rhythms being presented together with care and deliverance.
  3. BEST INDIVIDUAL TONES ALWAYS!
  4. COMPOSERS INTENTIONS & ADDRESSING THE ISSUE OF BALANCE.

James Brice (B. Ed (Music), L. Mus A, A. Mus A.) is Director of Instrumental Performance: Knox Grammar School and Musical Director of the North West Wind Ensemble and Castle Hill RSL Youth Wind Orchestra, Sydney, Australia

Featured image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/asterix/5022471097/ (Creative Commons License)

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