Confessions of a Band Director

Experiences and thoughts on music and teaching elementary and secondary band.

Adjudication – How it has helped me to be a better teacher.

Posted by D. Butchy on January 17, 2009

This year, I finally decided to have my senior high concert band attend it’s first adjudication. Here in PA, this is simply a process where the group performs 2 prepared pieces and some sight-reading. The ensemble is evaluated by a small group of judges, and the band is then given a rating. I like this system, because it does not necessarily compare the group to any of the others that are performing. This process also gives the group some positive feedback for improvement and also I think lends some validity to what we do as music teachers.  This is kind of like our “standarized test” for band.

Anyway, we have just begun our preparations for the adjudication in March. I have noticed that preparing for this event has already made me a better teacher. Let me explain why. First of all, this has forced me to be much for focused and goal-oriented in our rehearsals. I know that we will have to sight-read, so we are working on that every day during our warm-ups. After listening to our winter concert, I knew that we had to work more on intonation, so this is something that we are also addressing on a daily basis. Focusing on these two prepared pieces has also helped me to be better in my rehearsal planning process.  What I have found myself doing is just selecting certain concepts that I want to work on that day, or selecting a small section of the music to perfect. In just two weeks, I have found the group’s progress to be very exciting, and I think we are now getting more done in a shorter period of time.  I should also mention that I am careful to make sure that the adjudication is not all-encompassing. I think that this may be part of the reason that I shied away from doing it initially. I worried that I would focus too much on the adjudication, and not about teaching music.  But, I have been pleasantly surprised to find out that with the right mindset, this is actually helping me to be a better, more prepared, more focused teacher! Stay tuned for more updates as we continue to prepare!

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4 Responses to “Adjudication – How it has helped me to be a better teacher.”

  1. ken chaney said

    As someone who has done contests for many years, I agree with you. It helps to have others say the same things to your groups that they’ve heard from you many times. A little credibility goes a long way.
    Prepare students to suffer the bad judge. I always seem to get one that is insane, so I remind the band that what we think of our performance is more important than what anyone else thinks. This helps us to grow from the criticism rather than be discouraged by it.
    Keeping a list of areas to improve on the board is a good way to focus students individual practice.
    If possible, recording rehearsals periodically helps students see their growth and hear the band from the outside.
    Good luck!

  2. Stengel99 said

    Good for you for doing this. I had a similar experience, having a high school symphonic band go through the sightreading element of a festival for the first time. While you definitely want to shoot for the moon, remember not to be disappointed if you only reach the stars. Since it sounds like this is your group’s first time going through the process, almost any result/outcome is better than not doing it at all.

    Keep us posted!

  3. musicteacher541 said

    It seems like your blog has a lot of great music teaching resources and tips. Surely, I will keep on coming back to read your latest posts. Keep it up!

  4. Kyle McDonald said

    How are the arts up north compared to the south?? I have a Masters in Choral Music Education and I really want to get out of Florida. Is the job situation just as dire up there??

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