Clavier Companion - May/June 2017 - 39
* entry fees and deadlines
* repertoire requirements
* memorization requirements
* dress code
* numbering of measures
* number of original copies of the score required
* warm-up facilities at the event
The student should never be sent to an event without
being prepared for all aspects of the performance.
When the student returns from the event, I always
begin by asking him how he felt about his performance.
Then, if I have received the adjudicator's comments,
we go over them together. There may be times when
the comments are contradictory to how the student
has been prepared. There is nothing wrong with this.
It presents a good opportunity to discuss the different
ways people hear and interpret music. In most cases,
it is not about a right way and a wrong way, but about
expanding the choices available for the performer.
The adjudicator's responsibilities
The adjudicator plays a major role in making the
student's participation positive and successful. The
student does not need to "win" in order for this to
The adjudicator's job begins as soon as the student
enters the room. Imagine how it feels to walk into
a strange room, meet a strange person whose job
is to "judge" you, and then have this person not
smile or greet you warmly.
The adjudicator must always
delight at getting to meet
the performers and hearing
their music! Likewise, after the
performance, a sincere "thank
you" and another smile will go
a long way to reassuring the
By far, the adjudicator's most
important job is the written
critique on the evaluation
form. Within a limited time,
the adjudicator must piece
together a coherent and
constructive evaluation. In
order to facilitate this, many
event coordinators will send
a copy of the critique form to
the adjudicators in advance. I
always find this very helpful.
Not only does it familiarize me with the form itself, it
tells me a bit about the event's focus and priorities.
Just as teachers must research events for their
students, so must the adjudicator. Is the event one
dedicated to providing a purely positive, nurturing
experience to students of all abilities? Or is it one
that expects the highest standards of all participants?
Or is it one which seeks to reward only the highest
caliber performances? All of these types of events
are valid, but the adjudicator must be aware of which
type the event is, in order for all to go well. Some
events provide a rubric for evaluation. In this case the
adjudicators know the expectations and will strive for
consistency in evaluations. Festivals will sometimes
provide score ranges and averages from previous
years. These tell a lot about what is expected of the
performers, and can be very helpful.
In a non-competitive festival designed to be a supportive performance opportunity, an average student
will not benefit from scores and comments better suited to a national competition. I don't believe
adjudicators need to lower their standards. These
standards guide our listening. The adjudicator's
greatest challenge is to make the assessment fit the
setting and the performer.
Providing effective feedback
At events in which a score is given, it is essential
that the comments on the critique support the score
awarded. It is extremely confusing to the student