The Pitch Pipe January 2022

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lthough the process of becoming an official judge takes time, you can start today to build the skills and qualifications that the Judge Specialists will be looking for when you apply. The starting point is the desire to learn and be part of one of the most effective educational programs in our organization. And there are ways to build your qualifications even before you apply.

Every year, the Judge Specialists Committee receives applications from members who are interested in joining the International Judging

Program. What are the specialists looking for when they consider these applications? Primarily, they want to believe the applicant has a realistic chance of success in the pursuit of their goal to become a judge. Experience, knowledge, commitment and communication skills are just some of the areas that can indicate this potential.

All the judges know there is a need for new people to apply to the program to keep the competition system alive and well. At their recent training session, members of the International Judging Program discussed the importance of recruiting more people to the program. It was clear to all that the strength of the program, based on the common experience of being competitors, relies on recruiting new volunteers. So if you think you might be a good candidate for the program, many judges will be willing to help you decide if judging might be right for you. If you are active in your chorus and region, especially in teaching or coaching, you not only become familiar with barbershop, you also gain the experience that provides a good basis of evaluation for the Judge Specialists. We know by experience that the opportunity to succeed in the program is strengthened by this kind of involvement. Coaching, teaching and taking part in educational events contribute to your experience and help you to be able to evaluate performances.

“...consider how you can gain experience and knowledge about the barbershop art form and the judging system.” Before you are ready to apply, consider how you can gain experience and knowledge about the barbershop art form and the judging system. Keep track of your activities and look for ways to strengthen your listening and evaluating skills. As you become more involved, you will also get to know the people who will be references for you on your application and they will be more familiar with your abilities. There is an easy, convenient way for you to learn about the judging system — from the comfort of your own home! The Judging Category Description Book is available to all members online. Everything you need to do your own judging study is in that book. Each category is described in detail. Sample scoresheets are included as well as the list of descriptors that describe the scoring criteria. All the information that the official judges use is there — in one place. Any judge will tell you that they continue to study this information every year and they use the tools provided in the book at every contest. So why not use your opportunity as an observer at a competition to start to explore your talent for this job? It is well known that most of us already evaluate the contests as we sit in the auditorium. We take our program and rate the performances. We draw stars, dots, checkmarks, and so forth. Next time, take it one step further and write a score instead. The official scores are posted after every competition and you can check how you did compared to the official panel.

If you score the competitors accurately, the next step is to expand by writing a few comments. You don’t need real scoresheets; you just need a notebook and the ability to concentrate on the performance. How would you describe the performance? Whether you realize it or not, you have developed your own descriptors that can lead to a score and ranking of the competitors. This is essentially what every judge is doing when they write a scoresheet: Describing a level of performance that indicates a score. It really is that easy! In the beginning, it is not necessary to think about the category on which you are going to focus. Maybe you have an idea of the one you like, but if not, start by just writing what you see and hear. By looking at the elements of each category, you will begin to recognize which elements affect your scoring. Reread your comments after the contest and compare your scores with the official scores. You can start to do your own analysis of what affects you when you evaluate the performance. As experienced judges will tell you, your category might find you! If you know a judge, ask them for some feedback on what you wrote and how you scored. Members of the International Judging Program are passionate about what they do. They will be happy to tell you all about their role. Many would be willing to discuss your attempts at scoring and writing comments. There are many classes designed to develop listening skills and evaluative thinking. Take advantage of these classes as well as judging classes offered at regional and international events. Even if you don’t plan to become a judge, you will learn about the system and appreciate the attention to detail that makes the program so effective as an educational offering to our members. An Aspiring Judge track will be offered at the 2022 International Education Symposium (IES). This track is for everyone who has an interest in learning about the program — for whatever reason. It will be a hands-on experience with lots of opportunity to write scoresheets, listen to performances and even to trial score live contests. You will have the chance to share and talk about the performances in a fun, relaxed atmosphere. If you want to explore the judging system, this is the track for you — an inside look into the program with no pressure to sign up. And it will look good on your résumé! Marcia Pinvidic is a Certified Director, was a member of the International Board of Directors for eight years and served as International President from 2014-2016. She has served as Judge Specialist Moderator and Expression Category Judge Specialist, and is the current chair of the Education Direction Committee (EDC).

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