Competing Against Bands That Are Well Known

Question: When a band that historically has done well is going to perform, how can a judge be objective and not presume a band’s performance and score accordingly? This seems to be the case with a couple of bands and I cannot personally see a 8-10 point spread in overall performance scores from 1st to 2nd to 3rd.

Answer: A judge’s primary job is to judge the “show of the day”. Personally, since I judge in a variety of areas/markets, I often have the luxury of not knowing much with regards to the band’s background. This gives me nothing to base my score on other than the performance that is given at that particular time. In the markets where I am a little more familiar with the history of some groups, I’m always trying to ensure that I’m crediting what’s being performed at that time vs. what they might’ve accomplished in the past. This is something that my particular association covers annually during our training and workshop sessions . . . that we “check all pre-conceived ideas at the door.” Nothing is more exciting for a student (and even a judge) than to see a group that has that “breakout” performance rewarded for their efforts. In reference to your point regarding point spreads, keep in mind that everything is multiplied, so while the scoresheet itself may show an 8-10 point spread, that actually results in a spread of 0.8 to 1.0. Judges should be very aware of the value of a tenth of a point and how to apply those to their spreads in order to create a realistic picture of how far apart bands will be based on their achievement levels.

– Mark Culp