What Judges Do During The Off Season

Question: What Do The Judges Do During The “Off-Season”?

Answer: You see us every weekend either sitting in or on top of the press box making tape commentary and assigning scores. But have you ever wondered what the judges do when marching season is over? Contrary to what you might think, we don’t all just “hang it up” for nine months only to come out of hibernation once August rolls around the next year.

For some (including myself), the journey continues throughout the winter months judging the various winter guard and winter percussion shows throughout the country. I also adjudicate a summer track circuit in Indiana that holds shows during the various county fairs in July leading up to the championship event held during the first week of August at the Indiana State Fair. Other folks will take a short break in the spring and then dive headfirst back into judging during the DCI season.

Year-round, I like to take any free time and look into what’s happening in the world of fine arts. I try to attend various theatre events, both established and experimental. One of the most pleasant surprises I saw last winter was an off-Broadway performance of the program “Altar Boyz” at Cincinnati’s Playhouse in the Park. Simple staging, easy to follow storyline infused with humor, and brilliant performers. I’m always looking for various performance art events within few hours drive as well (Cirque du Soleil, Blue Man Group, etc.). The level of sophistication from a design point of view for some of these programs is amazing and I always enjoy seeing how their influence spills over to the marching field in subsequent seasons.

You’ll also find judges associations who use their down time to train new recruits. I’m actually mentoring a prospective in Minnesota at the current time who should be ready to “hit the big time” during the upcoming season. We’ve also held small group discussion sessions as well as full association seminars to stay on top of changes judging sheets in various states and improve in areas where directors have indicated they feel we need further development. And interesting session to be held at our August seminar will showcase three directors in an open discussion forum. The level of experience of these three bands will be diverse: one is a perennial BOA finalist, one is a BOA semi-finalist caliber band wanting to take the next step, and one is from a smaller group with limited experience. As judges, we need to understand what kind of input each of these groups is looking for and how we also equate that back to the criteria. This should be a good session to help broaden the judging horizon of each member.

I’m looking forward to another great season of amazing performances. I sincerely hope that all of you currently performing have had a great camp and are ready to leave it all on the field each weekend. As was the case last year, please send any “judging related” questions directly to Rick at the site and he will forward those to me for answers. Best of luck to you all!

– Mark Culp