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Dear Judges

Adjudicating at CMM

· Practical Pedagogy

Dear Judges,

Thank you for spending your day with us! At the Centre for Musical Minds, we approach music from a hobbyist standpoint for the majority of our students. The purpose of our adjudicated events is to encourage each student to find and reach for his/her best musical self. That said, we have another type of student, which is the exam student. Each student participating in The Royal Conservatory Examinations will have a star next to their name on your roster. Please adjudicate their sheets with the eye and ear of a serious, professionally trained classical pianist. For adjudicating hobby players for this event, here is what is most important to understand:

  1. Enjoyment is at the forefront; how we feel reaching this is through music that sounds good to our student's ears and doing our best to expand their musical knowledge and taste. This means we incorporate familiar music as part of our core curriculum and see popular music just as, or even more important than the classical traditions. Some students may play more than one popular piece, and that’s just fine.
  2. Performance standards are not at the level of a professional. This means you should still hear musicality, dynamics, steady tempo and clear articulations. This means you should not give them a I- or II simply because their dynamics weren’t as good as they could be at age 8, they missed a few articulations or because they dropped one beat on the first page of a 2 page piece. (Sometimes I feel Horowitz would get a II from some of these local judged events.)
  3. Specific comments. The intention of our performance evaluations is to encourage each student to find and reach for his/her best musical self. With that in mind, comments should be written with the intention of helping the student love his/her music even more with positive feedback and one or two comments for improvement.
  4. Instruments. Many of our students practice on keyboards or some pretty subpar uprights, to which we should not fault them for. Please demonstrate empathy.
  5. Creativity. For the love of all things good in this world, PLEASE do not mark off of their score if they add a fun ending or deviate from the LH accompaniment pattern in a pop song. Heaven forbid they play the popular song with the rhythm they know instead of the notated rhythm. Encourage it! Many of our students are learning how to play in a pop style and as you know, is not always about what’s written. Some students have learned music by ear and will provide you with a chord chart. Comment on what you feel comfortable.
  6. Technique. Please comment on technique if it’s lacking and compliment when it’s going well. Things to look for that we emphasize at the school:
  • Floating hands to the piano, or at least intentional first notes
  • Wrists stay above the keys at all times
  • Loose wrists
  • Tall pinkies
  • Long last notes when called for. Finished endings
  • Floating hands off the piano, or at least not a sloppy ending

Comment Sheet Specifics

Here is our adjudication sheet for each piece. Boxes with specific things to look for: A simple checkmark in these boxes work well, with an average of 3 supporting comments for their overall performance.

Good Comment Examples:

1. Overall, nice and steady! Try using your metronome more regularly and keep counting as you play.

2. Great dynamic contrasts! Are you able to get even softer where it’s marked p? See measures 8 and 9, as well as the last two measures. Bring out your RH melody more in m. 8-10 for clear voicing.

Poor Comment Examples:

1. You need to count.

2. You need to have more dynamics. Voice more in measures 8-10.

Rating Guideline

I. This performance is inspired, the student is clearly enjoying the music. Overall rhythm was steady, accurate melody was clear, dynamics were present and the student clearly prepared for this performance. In short, the student demonstrated musicality and (hopefully) joy!

II. This performance had some bumps in the road and it is clear the student did not prepare well, based on teacher or personal standards. Significant memory slips, no dynamics and rhythm was in Oklahoma.

III. This performance fell apart.

Looking forward to reading the comments! I genuinely hope you enjoy your afternoon of music from the students at the Centre for Musical Minds.