TEXAS MUSIC ADJUDICATORS ASSOCIATION
Jay B. Dunnahoo, Executive Secretary
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|Greetings from TMAA. I hope your summer was restful and invigorating. As we begin another school year, most of us have many changes in store. I hope you will continue to teach the important musical and life skills to the children of our state with the same energy and exceptional quality that you have in the past, in spite of smaller budgets, fewer staff, and the increased demands we face this year. As they say, “this too shall pass”. Hang in there!
Every so often it is a good idea to step back and analyze what you are doing so that you can make appropriate steering corrections. This is good advice not only for your personal life, but in your professional life as well. Looking at TMAA and the direction we are going, it’s clear that the vast majority of TMAA members are doing an exceptional job evaluating our music groups. Standards are becoming more uniform statewide and the critiques are more useful to students and teachers. However, there is always room for improvement.
I have been a member of the Executive Committee of TMAA for three years, and the most frustrating things we deal with every meeting are the letters and emails complaining about judges’ inappropriate behavior.
It seems that a few TMAA members feel like they “judge” in a vacuum and are unaware of the number of eyes and ears constantly directed toward them. We must always remember that perception is very important. Sometimes a judge’s actions appear to a parent or student to be completely inappropriate, but turn out to be perfectly innocent, e.g.; a judge consulting TMAA rubrics during a performance. On the other hand, every year there are a few complaints about judges that are so bazaar I have to scratch my head and just wonder, “What were you thinking?”
Some examples of recent complaints include judges checking emails and texting during sight reading contests (while the group was in the room), judges discussing the questionable teaching skills of a director in very derogatory terms (in the presence of several students), and my favorite, a judge taking a cell phone call during the director’s instruction period at a Sight Reading contest.
We need to remember to be professional at all times during the course of a contest. Many of us feel the need to check after each group to see what rating the other two judges awarded the performance. While that is not against policy (assuming that the critique sheets have been turned in), it must be done privately and in such a way that the audience is never left with the perception that collusion is taking place. Remember that you are hired to give your opinion and if it’s not exactly like the opinion of the other judges, that’s OK. It is important that the directors, students, and other audience members do not think for a second that any group is treated differently.
This summer the TMAA Executive Committee approved a process to simplify and make more accessible the filing of a grievance against a TMAA member. There will soon appear on the TMAA website, a link to the Grievance Form along with instructions on filing. Following is an explanation of the process and the thoughts behind it.
Once a grievance has been filed, the TMAA Executive Secretary will inform the TMAA President and the TMAA member subject to the grievance. The President will promptly begin an investigation, and along with the TMAA Executive Committee, will determine if the grievance is valid. If so, then the TMAA Committee on Standards of Adjudication and Performance Practices (CSAPP) will determine the outcome. Based on the seriousness of the violation, action taken will range from a verbal warning to the TMAA member to expulsion of the member from TMAA.
As the Grievance Process was being developed, all were in agreement that at no time would ratings be part of the grievance. The last thing we desire is that judges feel the ratings are being questioned or dictated in any way.
However, violations of our TMAA Code of Ethics, By-Laws, and other ethical issues will be addressed. Society today expects us all to be accountable. TMAA members, like all officials, are expected to behave in a fair and professional way. It is our hope this process will continue to strengthen our organization and encourage the highest standards in every aspect of adjudication.
I want to thank each of you for all the work you do for the students of Texas. Please continue to help TMAA maintain its quest for high standards and the music students of our state will continue to be recognized as the best in the country.
See you at TMEA!
William Duggan, President
Texas Music Adjudicators Association