The Georgia Music Educators Association operates an annual evaluation for bands each year. It is the equivalent of an end of course test or final exam. Groups are evaluated by a panel of experts. Our district hires college directors, advanced high school directors, composers, or professional performers as an evaluation panel. The structure is as follows:
Three evaluators listen to the stage performance and rate it based on established criteria (tone quality, intonation, rhythm, interpretation, balance/blend, and artistry). Ratings are basically modeled on letter grades:
I=A II=B III=C IV=D V=F
The three ratings are averaged, so a “I-I-II” would average as a “I”, or a “I”, “II”, “II” averages “II”
In addition, each group must play a piece that they have not seen or rehearsed. This “Sight Reading” evaluation is done in a separate room with one evaluator. The same criteria are used to arrive at a rating. The group has 6 minutes to study/discuss the music before being evaluated.
In our district, we offer an “expanded evaluation” which includes specialists in specific areas. We have a woodwind evaluator, brass evaluator, percussion evaluator, and a conductor evaluator. While feedback is provided that is more specific in these areas, no ratings are given by these evaluators.
As we approach the LGPE event, here are a few interesting facts:
In order to achieve a “I” or Superior rating, not only does each student have to perform at approximately the 99th percentile of accuracy, the entire group must also hit in the mid/upper ninetieth percentile in the ensemble categories. If we had only 1 or 2 mistakes per student, we would be evaluated with ratings of “II” or “III”. The issue is not only about each student being able to “play their part”, it is about blending, balancing, and prioritizing parts into a clear presentation. Playing in tune is a constant struggle, requiring intense concentration, analysis, and action in order to correct pitches as they occur. It truly is a team effort!
On any given note, a student can have as many as 7-9 different responsibilities (beginning the note at the correct time, strength, volume…playing the correct note…duration of note…blend to others…play in tune…ending of note….style of note). There thousands of notes in a performance.
Please make the effort to come to Lassiter HS and see your student perform. They have put in months of preparation and deserve a strong, supportive audience! While there, listen to a couple of bands from other schools. They also work hard and deserve great audiences.