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Judging Guidelines

Judges are to be an encouragement to each student, to boost their love of music, and to provide a positive learning experience.  Judges are required to be...

Be Professional...

  • Be fair to both the performer and teacher.

  • Evaluate the performance that you hear – not the performer or the choice of repertoire

  • Don’t assume anything about the student’s preparation or potential.

  • Be open to musical interpretations and technique that may be different from your own.

  • Is the performance convincing, vibrant, expressive on its own terms?

  • Accept editorial markings indicated by the teacher and make comments based on how well the student executed the given plan.  Evaluations should be legible and contain comments consistent with all markings. Explain in your comments what is weak/strong and briefly offer suggestions for improvement.

  • Give content that will fairly evaluate the performance with specific information that is nurturing and can lead them on to greater success and growth as a musician.

  • Remember these are students (whether child or adult) and they need your suggestions for improvement AND your encouragement!

  • Take your role seriously!  The students and teachers really want to hear what you have to say, and most hope to take something home with them that they can work on to improve their skills.  Keep a smile on your face and tell them something they did well.

Be Participating...

  • Your organization has chosen you because they greatly respect the background, education, and expertise you bring as a judge to music events.  Be equally respectful of the organization by being well-acquainted with the particulars of event policies and how to grade or score each different type of event successfully.

  • Be respectful of and abide by all deadlines for entry of students, report times on the day of the Evaluations, etc. without asking for exceptions to be made.

  • ALL STAR teachers entering students in the STAR Evaluations are expected to participate (usually as judges) ON THE DAY OF THE EVALUATIONS, as well as before and after the event as needed.  

Be Pleasant...

  • A good piano critique is nurturing, respectful, and kind, and sets a positive tone.

  • Teachers, students and parents look to the evaluation for indications that the student’s accomplishments are being measured against a reliable standard of excellence, but also for words that will motivate the student toward greater challenges and future progress.

  • Good judges take care to make students comfortable as they enter the room.  Your smile and a word of welcome and encouragement will make a student feel at ease.

  • Judges should always be attentive and interested in all students as they perform for ratings.  Display a friendly smile and show that you care.  

  • Judges should exhibit a desire to assist the student in becoming a better person through their music experience.

Be Positive...

  • STAR Judges should use the STAR Rating Grid on their rating sheets to help derive their final rating of performances. 

  • Use discretion in the way you say things with honesty and kindness.

  • Good judges’ comments are always stated in a positive way with sincerity, friendliness and helpfulness.

  • All students should feel as comfortable as possible when they are being evaluated.  The judges who attain that goal are the ones most respected by students and teachers.

  • A kind word at the beginning of the student’s performance may help ease the tension.

  • Positive comments interspersed with a few ideas for growth will go a long way in making the judging process a beneficial one for both students and teachers.

  • There’s always SOMETHING good about the performance, even if you’re only complimenting the choice of piece.  “You have great energy when you play this,” “nice tone”, etc.

  • For negatives, try to state them in the softest possible way – “I would like to hear cleaner scale passages.  Try slow practice or dotting the rhythms.”  Or something like, “How much dynamic shaping can you use on the second line?  It needs a little more rise and fall.”

  • End with congratulating them on performing, or thank them for playing, or something similar.

Be Prompt...

  • Good judges are on time or early (at least 30 minutes before the start of judging) and keep to the schedule they are given. 

  • Parents have schedules to keep through the day, and part of our public relations with them is keeping to the schedule, so they can make it to other events they have scheduled.

  • STAR Judges must stay within the required time allotment.    To help, STAR Judges are not required to listen to pieces in their entirety, and students should be reminded not to take repeats.   Additionally,  STAR judges must remember to sign the student rating sheets upon completion and place the sheets face down outside their doors.

  • A judge must show patience when in an evaluation situation.  There is no reason for a judge to show impatience or annoyance toward a student appearing late or out of order.  Generally this is not the student’s preference, but rather a necessity or something out of their control that precipitated the change.

Professional & Participating
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