Critique with Judges

This blog is based on Jeff Young’s “Marching Band Tips Part One- Managing Critique with Judges.” This specific blog focuses on his tip number 1, listening to the judge’s tapes before you go into the critique. There are a lot of reasons this is so beneficial and throughout this post, we touch on a few of them.

One of the best things judges do at marching band competitions is recording tapes while they are critiquing your performance. This is beneficial to you as a performer or a coach because you can hear what the judges are thinking as they are watching your performance. One of the biggest mistakes performers make is getting caught up in their emotions- being upset after not winning or being thrilled if they do place first. When performers get too caught up in their emotions, they often times don’t think of listening to the tapes and as a result, they miss out on so many learning opportunities and other benefits.

Jeff Young, a marching band expert mentions in his article, “Marching Band Tips Part One- Managing Critique with Judges” the importance of listening to these tapes before going into a judging critique. These critiques are times when you are allowed to go talk with judges after the competition to discuss what they did and didn’t like about your performance and where you have room to improve. These critiques are a great way to learn and improve if you approach them the in the right way. Jeff Young explains that listening to the tapes before attending is important because you can use them as a reference in your critique.

Judges are watching a lot of performances and are normally pretty mentally drained by the end of the competition. They only have a couple minutes to say everything they think about your performance- not nearly enough time to give adequate feedback. Also, the odds of them remembering why they gave you a certain score in one category is a long shot. If you’ve listened to the tapes and still have questions, you can show the judges the clip you are confused about. This will often times help judges jog their memories. This way they will be able to elaborate on what they meant at certain parts of their critique.

When you are listening to the judges’ tapes, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and like your performance wasn’t very good. It can feel like the judges are questioning if you even know how to the play the drums, however, it is so important to not fall into this trap. One good way to stay on top of this is to focus on corrections you get from multiple judges. If one judge likes this part and another doesn’t and the third judge simply says nothing about the specific part, how do you know what to do? However, if all three judges say a certain point in your performance could use some work it is a lot easier to know what to do. Make comments that are similar across the board of judges a priority of things to fix, rather than dwelling on every single minor critique each judge says.

Sometimes you can hear common themes throughout the entire tape. Let’s use technique for example. Say throughout all the tapes, you keep hearing the judges mention that you aren’t holding your instruments correctly, or your marching isn’t always in sync. As a coach, understanding correctly how to teach the drums, trumpets, and clarinets are crucial to your performers’ success. In this case, having a mid-season refresher on the very basics of how to hold your trumpet or how to play the drums can help fix this problem.

Critiques can be a humbling experience. They can make you feel super awesome or super not awesome. However, no matter how you did in the competition, you can be a winner when it comes to learning from critiques. Taking the time to listen to tape before you go into critiques can help you learn from the judges more, it can help you decide on what you really do need to work on, and it can give you ideas on how to improve your performance. Judge’s tapes are one of the single best ways to improve your team’s technique and as a result, improve your team’s performance for future competitions.

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