ANNUAL KEYNOTE ADDRESS

TMAA General Membership Meeting
Wednesday, February 11, 2015 in CC Ballroom C1
Comments from David Lambert, Guest Speaker

First, I want to commend each of you for all that you do for the band, choir and orchestra students of Texas by serving as an adjudicator for the various music events offered to those students. Your dedication to helping keep Texas one of the premier places to teach music is most appreciated.

When I was asked to speak at this meeting, I thought; what I can say that might possibly be helpful…and what can I say that would be really short? So while I am “preaching to the choir”
, so to speak, I thought perhaps sharing my perspective as to what I try to do prior to judging an event might be helpful and brief.

I have a little different perspective than most in that I have been a student who attended University Interscholastic League events, I have been the parent of students who have attended UIL events, I have been a teacher whose students attended UIL, I have been a school administrator and I have been an executive secretary overseeing these events. With all that said, I try to prepare myself to address what each of these - the student, the parent, the teacher, and the administrator, might expect from me as an adjudicator of their student(s).

BEFORE I judge…
· I try to re-read the rules for the event I am going to adjudicate. Rules change and I forget. It is always a good idea to re-read the rules each year so as to understand exactly what my role is in the process. As a sight-reading judge I should know who gets extra time and how much. Sometimes mistakes can be made that could be avoided if time was taken to review the rules and guidelines…not just by the teacher, but also by the adjudicator. There is a resource for band adjudicators on the UIL web site entitled: “Band Sight-reading Frequently Asked Questions”. This can be very helpful in answering questions before they arise on the day of the event.

· I review the rubric for the event that I am to evaluate. I know that subjectivity cannot be totally removed from evaluating any of the performing arts, but I also know the rubrics are great tools that can make my evaluation more accurate, especially when I may be “on the fence.” When this occurs, the rubric can be indispensable. I know in some of the instrumental rubrics it says “does not miss notes” for a superior, excellent, and an average performance. Common sense would tell me that if pitches are not consistently missed and if recovery from minor error is quick, there should not be a penalty. I would not give a “poor” rating because of a missed pitch or two in an otherwise superior or excellent performance.

·
I try to think of the verbiage for the rating I give the performance. Was the performance superior, excellent, average, below average, or poor? I believe that adjudicators, who think in terms of words rather than the division number, have a better chance of giving the appropriate rating.

·
I leave my newspaper, book or magazine at home. If I am reading the newspaper between performances, it leaves the impression, right or wrong, that there are more important things on my mind than what I was hired to do.

·
I always turn my cell phone off…not to vibrate, but OFF. There is nothing more distracting, and embarrassing, than to have a cell phone ring during a performance or a sight-reading explanation. It would be even worse, if the call is answered. If I need to make a call, I leave the performance area. Again, perception is important. I don’t want a parent or director to think that I have more important things to do than what I was hired to do…judge their students.

·
I leave my computer at home unless I plan on using it to write and print critiques. I would encourage you to consider using your computer to write your critique. I know the longer the day gets, the worse my handwriting can become. If I use my computer and printer, I know the performers can read my comments. Sometimes this is not possible in concert situations unless you are provided with a table for your equipment. In such cases hand written comments may be the only option.

·
I try not to fraternize with directors before their organization performs. No matter how innocent this may be, it can leave a terrible impression to parents and other directors. If a friend approaches just to say “hi”, I try to politely respond saying I would love to visit after your group performs.

·
I try to never write a hurtful comment. I must remember that I am writing my comments to the students. A judge’s comments should be positive and helpful in a way that gives students ways to improve their musical abilities, not just to tell the performers what they did wrong. Almost anyone can do that. My comments need to address the problems that occurred in the performance and I need to suggest ways to correct those problems so students can be better prepared for future performances.

·
I never base my rating on the past performances of a group that I hear. The only thing that adjudicators should do is judge the performance that is heard that day. Nothing else should matter. The organization may have a reputation that is stellar, but the performance given at the event being judged must be the only thing used in determining the rating. This is also true for sight-reading. Nothing should be used to determine a rating except how the students performed the music. The instructions and student reaction to the instruction should not play a role. Certainly, this may have caused some of the problems that may have occurred, but how the students performed can be the only thing that determines the rating awarded.

·
I never try to correct a noisy audience or other distraction in the concert hall. I have the event chairperson take care of the problem. My job is to evaluate performance not maintain auditorium decorum.

·
I try to remember that there are five ratings that I can use to score an organization and I can use all of them.

·
I must be aware that no performance is perfect. My rating should be based on the frequency of errors and how quickly the students recover from those errors.

·
I must be aware of MY audience. Many of the people in the auditorium, stadium, or sight-reading room will be watching me and the other judges to see any reaction that we may have to their student’s performance. Do the judges immediately get up and talk about the group or perhaps compare ratings? Again, perception is very important. Ideally, I will not discuss ratings at all but look at the rating board on a break or at lunch. I think that sometimes when judges compare ratings they may unconsciously begin trying to second guess themselves. (If the rubric is used, I believe this becomes less likely.)
On another note, I want to urge you to encourage new teachers to participate in UIL events. When there are so many non-UIL contests in which organizations can compete, some teachers new to the profession may ask...why participate in UIL when there are so many other events in which I can enter my students?

·
First…University Interscholastic League events are evaluations (not contests). Student organizations perform against a standard. There are no winners or losers as in an athletic event. Exception: UIL Marching Contest.

·
It is our state event and is the model for many other state music events throughout the country. UIL events are probably the main reason that our programs have remained as outstanding as they are today.

·
Music is a part of the state curriculum and we should utilize UIL performances as a part of the evaluation process for our band, choir, or orchestra programs. It is a “snapshot” of how organizations are doing in relation to our curriculum…much the same as standardized tests are “snapshots” of student progress in English, math, science and social studies. I urge teachers to take their ratings and the rubric and show their administration how students were evaluated. I can assure you, administrators understand rubrics. I think by doing this, administrators will better understand how adjudicators evaluate student performance as well as how their band, choir, and orchestra students are progressing.

·
UIL is adjudicated by trained individuals (you) with a focus on how students can improve their musical skills and understanding.

·
Participation in UIL is cost effective.

·
There are always a large number of other groups who are participating. I know that I have a junior high choir event which will involve 50 choirs. I have had my organizations participate in non-UIL events where there were less than five.

· It is an opportunity to provide a true educational experience should teachers choose to make it one. So many organizations, for whatever reason, have to leave immediately after the scores are received. To me, those organizations miss much of the educational experience when students aren’t provided the opportunity to hear other students organizations perform.

Finally, I want thank the TMAA board for the opportunity to speak to this organization today. Please continue the work that you do and encourage teachers entering our profession to attend TMAA workshops and begin the process of becoming a member of this fine organization.


Copyright 2015 Texas Music Adjudicators Association
410 Coronado Drive
  Kerrville, TX  78028-3802
(830) 792-5224
FAX (830) 792-5917