Adjudication Experience – Great!!

This afternoon, my senior high concert band attended our first ever PMEA adjudication festival. I have wanted to do one for a few years, but have always been apprehensive about doing it. After some great encouragement by my colleagues, I finally decided to send my group this year. I must admit that I was nervous at the beginning of the semester, because I wasn’t quite sure if we’d be able to pull it off. But, as I commented earlier, preparing for this adjudication has really helped me to be a better teacher. We finally started to sight-read on a regular basis, and I was much more focused in my rehearsal time.

The students played great today, and I am so proud of them. They achieved an “Excellent” rating, which is the 2nd highest they could have acheived.  We performed Erickson’s “Air for Band” and Grundman’s “Kentucky 1800.” Anyway, after a wonderful experience here are my observations:

1. First and foremost, I will definitely do this again. I may even go so far as to say that we’ll do it every year. My students got so much out of the experience, and I’m sure that this will prove true when we begin to listen to the judges’ tapes as well.

2. I am impressed with how calm my students appeared to be throughout their performance. Either they felt very confident and were very well prepared and not nervous, or they did a very good job of hiding it. This is very good, because I always feel like we don’t always play as well as we could because of our nerves.

3. That leads me to #3…I don’t think my students could have possibly played better than they did today. I feel that their performance was a very accurate representation today of their true ability. I told the students before they played today to remember that no matter what happened today, that is was only a snapshot of how they played on this particular day. I’m just glad that they performed up to their potential. 🙂

4. The event was VERY well run by Gary Taylor from Wilminton HS. Everything ran smoothly, and the atmosphere at the venue was relaxed, yet formal, and very good for the students. Maybe this is why they were so calm during their performance.

5. My students did a great job on the sight-reading component! They really surprised me, because I thought that is where we would struggle the most. But, we actually read the piece from beginning to end without stopping once, and no train wrecks!

6. If you have not taken your groups to an adjudication experience, you must do it! It was a wonderful experience, and I know my students got A LOT out of it! Don’t keep putting it off like I did! Just go do it!

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

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!