By Amanda Sames
The yearly high school band adjudication has recently passed us by on Friday, March 8th and Saturday, March 9th here at Glenelg High School. However, participants and viewers are well aware that this was not just some random weekend event. School band programs all over the county have been rigorously preparing to take this test for months.
Adjudication is an assessment of a group’s performance based on many categories. Three qualified judges evaluate each group on their interpretation of the music, musicality, tone, intonation, balance, and technical accuracy (such as technique and rhythm). Each judge gives the group a score of I to V, with I being the highest score. The ensembles then receive an average of all three judges’ evaluations as an overall score for their performance.
Each ensemble plays three songs: a warm up piece and two adjudicated pieces. After each piece, a judge gives a signal to proceed once they are all ready. Because of this, there is little wait time between each piece. It is a quick and pressure-filled process.
After the performance, ensembles are graded on their ability to sight-read (reading a piece of music for the first time). In the sight-reading room, binders of music are handed out to musicians with corresponding instruments. They are instructed to keep them closed while the director spends three minutes reading through the score. Then, the band goes over their appropriate piece — without playing it -- with the director. Finally, the ensemble begins and later receives a grade for their sight-reading.
Thirteen other schools came to Glenelg for adjudication, including River Hill, Centennial, Marriott’s Ridge, and even the Gilman School for Boys. Some schools even brought multiple bands, resulting in a total of twenty-five performances.
This year, the Glenelg Symphonic Band played “The Thunderer” by John Philip Sousa as their warm-up piece. As for their adjudicated pieces, the band played “First Suite” written by Gustav Holst and “Summer Dances” by Brian Balmages.
Despite there being only three pieces, the Glenelg symphonic band was hard at work for the three months rehearsing and practicing. It takes a lot of time to first learn a piece and then dig into the music to perfect their performance. Also, because of all of the snow-days we have had this school year, the band had to commit to extra, lengthy evening rehearsals, all in preparation for adjudication.
Although the band has constantly had to deal with cancelled practices and other time constraints, director Mr. Winters believes that the program “has come a tremendous way in a short amount of time with numerous interruptions.” The band has been growing and growing, but they now need a performance to grow more.
There was a lot of pressure during the week of adjudication, especially because the band is always striving for perfection -- they can’t aim for anything less. However, no matter how it went, Mr. Winters said this: “Beyond scores and ratings, I want the symphonic members to be proud and musically satisfied with their performance.” Through this statement, Mr. Winters expressed how he wanted the members to feel a sense of pride and accomplishment for a job well done.
On Friday night of adjudication, the Glenelg Symphonic Band was the last group to play -- a privilege given to those hosting this specific event. At the end of the night, Mr. Winters gave a heartwarming speech to the symphonic members to congratulate them on their hard work. Senior members Emma FitzGibbon and Katie Morrogh said that the performance was “good -- we worked hard and played well.” Additionally, the ensemble received straight I’s, continuing the 43 year streak that the Glenelg Symphonic Band has.
Although adjudication is now over, the band must continue to maintain and perfect their pieces for their upcoming spring trip at the music festival OrlandoFest. There, the symphonic band, marching band, jazz band, orchestra, choir groups, and auxiliary units will compete against other schools in a nationwide competition. Hopefully they will experience the same amount of success that they did at the adjudication.