Four Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Marching Band Adjudication Tapes

Four Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Marching Band Adjudication Tapes

Focus on What Really Matters


By NAfME Member Richard Grennor

This article originally appeared on “Dr. Grennor’s Music Academy” blog.

In all corners of our country, marching band is part of the high school performing experience. Students marching this fall have already gathered at area schools to meet with their instructors and fellow participants. They have begun the journey of learning to perform marching shows for the upcoming competition season. In view of the pending marching band competition season, this post discusses how to get the most out of your marching band adjudication tapes.

marching band | Roberto Galan


What Are the Judges Evaluating?

The judges’ responsibilities are threefold when evaluating marching bands. First, rate each band according to the position the performing group belongs in the scoring rubric as it relates to their particular caption. Second, rank the position of each band compared to their competitors. Third, provide audio commentary in real time that evaluates the content the band is performing, and how well the students are performing the content. 

1. Don’t Become Preoccupied with Your Score

Band directors should want to know what needs to improve and how to go about making the performance better. The score alone will not tell the performing group how to improve. Don’t become distracted with numbers. Generally, the judges are looking for how many demands are being placed on the performers in relation to the group’s level of achievement of that content. In the end, the students’ performance that day will determine the score. 

2. Listen for Occasions When Multiple Judges Agree

Don’t stress about individual comments. Reacting to all of the judges’ comments is impossible. Listen for when multiple judges make similar comments about a particular aspect of the show. These comments may be from across the same judging panel in a competition or from multiple judges in multiple competitions. Make these comments your top priority.

adjudication | Julian J. Rossig

3. Judges Are People Too!

Judges are human beings. They have a small window of time to make commentary and record their numbers. Don’t expect the adjudicators to have all the intimate details of your show as part of their frame of reference. Understand, the adjudication panel is reacting in real time to what the band is performing and how the students are performing. Similarly, as the band director, you do not have the same perspective the judges have when comparing each band in succession. While your band may be performing a demanding show both visually and musically, keep in mind—some of your competitors may also be demonstrating comparable performance skills.

sousaphone | wavipicture

4. Listen for Big Picture Items

What fundamental concepts does the judge discuss in their commentary? Listen for the overall themes of what the judge believes you should spend the band’s rehearsal time on. It’s not about the individual comment, but all about the general meaning of all the judges’ comments. Make certain you listen to the tapes through to the end. Often, adjudicators will reveal what they believe to be the “big ticket” items in their summary at the end of the tape.


About the author:

music educatorRichard Grennor, Ed.D. has been teaching instrumental music in New Jersey to students of all ages and grade levels for 16 years. He holds a B.A. degree in Music Education from Kean University, and a M.A. in Educational Leadership from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Richard earned his Ed.D. degree from Nova Southeastern Universities -National Program for Educational Leaders.

Dr. Grennor has presented professional development workshops for the New Jersey Music Educators Association Summer Conference IX and research for the 55th Annual National Association for Music Education In-Service Conference. He is a certified by the National Judges Association as an Individual Music Analysis Judge and regularly adjudicates high school music competitions. Dr. Grennor served as the woodwind specialist judge for the 2017 Tournament of Bands Atlantic Coast Championships held at Hershey Park Stadium, PA.

Read more about Richard Grennor.


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