Highlights from the WGI Winds Judge Training Sessions January 11, 2015

August 2, 2017

The judge training session for the inaugural WGI Winds season was very successful and productive. All judges who will be adjudicating WGI Winds events were in attendance including 8 Percussion/Winds judges, 2 Guard/Winds judges, 12 veteran band judges who are new to
WGI and 2 local circuit judges who were observing.

The 2015 Winds Adjudication Manual & Rulebook was the foundation of the training. Topics and concepts that are winds specific were discussed, defined and interpreted in this new activity. There was great dialogue and interaction with consensus being reached on all topics.


  1. One of the targets of the sessions was interpreting the important phrase “The emphasis and focus of adjudication will be on the wind instruments.” This appears at the top of the Overall Effect and Music Analysis adjudication sheets.
    • The purpose of that phrase being placed on those sheets was twofold:
      1. To send a message to groups that this is to be an activity with wind instruments as the primary focus musically and instrumentation-wise
      2. To comment that although any instrumentation may be used, the judges input will be focused on the winds
    • There was discussion and consensus reached regarding how to evaluate auxiliary (nonmusician)
      1. Overall Effect judges will consider these performers, either as a positive or as a negative, in their evaluation “to a small degree.”
      2. Visual Analysis will evaluate all performers and their contribution. The wind instrument focus does not appear on this sheet.
    • For Music Analysis and Overall Effect, the wind instrument phrase relates to winds, electronics and percussion. Groups are going to use any number of percussion & electronic instruments, or possibly none, both marching and stationary. Judges will consider these performers, either as a positive or as a negative, in their evaluation “to a lesser degree than the winds.”

    2. The variety of instrumentation and style of show is a very unique aspect of the new WGI
    Winds division. Very few restrictions were placed on instrumentation. This was intentional to
    let the designers, staffs and performers be creative in their approach and determine what
    this division will become.

    • On the one hand, this will make for a very interesting show for the audience and judges.
    • On the other hand, this will be the most challenging aspect of judging WGI Winds.
    • The concept of Balance must be approached differently than in marching band or the other pageantry arts. There is no “standard” balance as we expect in a concert or marching band. We will approach balance as defined by the groups instrumentation.
      1. We will assume that the group has chosen the instrumentation that is performing.
      2. If there 8 woodwinds and 16 brass, the resulting balance is based on that instrumentation. We should avoid comments like “it would be better if you had more woodwinds.” or “you really need a tuba.”
      3. The same is true for upper, middle and lower voices. The so-called “pyramid of sound/balance” is NOT applicable.
      4. We should expect a balance relative to their chosen instrumentation.
      5. More importantly in our adjudication is a good balance of the musical elements:
        • Melody to Accompaniment
        • The “musical hierarchy” – primary voice, secondary voice, etc.

    3. Some further definitions & clarifications from the judging sheets

    • Music Analysis – “Sonority” is to be defined as true characteristic tone qualities with university/professional concert bands, jazz groups and orchestras as our model. This of course should be appropriate to the idiom/genre chosen. (e.g. A “symphonic” sax sound should be different from a jazz sound.) In this new indoor genre, performers will have the opportunity to play and be heard with the distinct colors of their instrument and not blend into a “homogenized” ensemble sound that is not characteristic. i.e. “A trumpet should
      sound like a trumpet.”
    • Music Analysis – “Depth and Variety of Orchestration” must be considered in relation to the group’s classification. (see Classification below)
    • Overall Effect – “Program Concept/Premise” is an important factor but not the entire focus of Overall Effect. Keep it in balance with the rest of the sheet.
    • Overall Effect – “Creativity/Imagination” must be considered to be of high quality. Simply being creative without quality, just for the sake of uniqueness, is not effective.
    • Any vocal performances or narration must be considered in Music Analysis and Overall Effect relative to their quality (MA) and to their effectiveness (OE). The MA judge need not feel required to comment on vocal technique, but the standards of quality, intonation, etc. are universal.

    4. The Multi-Tiered Scoring System was a focus of the training sessions as this is probably a new concept to those judges new to WGI. The Adjudication Manual defines this idea best: “The multi-tiered criteria are a detailed, specific system that focuses on and rewards the development of the classes that compete nationally. It is based on a curriculum specifically reflecting the growth involved within each class.

    • It provides opportunity for performers to complete a process of development described in their specific class curriculum.
    • It allows groups to be rated accurately.
    • It allows all classes to experience a higher numerical grade for achievement.”
    • I found the analogy that works best for me is an 8th grader can get a 90% in 8th grade math. A 10th grader can get a 90% in 10th grade Geometry and a 12th grader can get a 90% in 12th grade Calculus. We should not expect the 8th grader to have to take the 12th grade Calculus test.
    • The WGI Judging system was reviewed and summarized (pages 14-16)
      1. The Five Steps of Learning
      2. Expectations from the Multi-Tiered Scoring Criteria

    5. Understanding the Classification System and what the expectations are for each class is
    important in Ranking and Rating. (pages 18-19)

    • It is important that the performing groups are competing in the correct class for their level
      of development and maturity.
    • “Groups who may be competing in the wrong class could find that the scoring process
      will isolate them, because these criteria are so strongly attuned to the curriculum involved in the developmental process.”
    • It is primarily the responsibility of the Director of WGI Winds to make sure the groups are in the correct class.
    • If as a Winds judge you feel a group is in the wrong class, please inform the Director of Winds in person or on Monday following the contest via email or phone.
    • In this inaugural year of WGI Winds, it may be a “work in progress” throughout the season as there may be many groups who are unfamiliar with the WGI System.
    • For the music category it may be helpful to think of classification as relative to high school Concert Band grading of concert music. This does not quite line up cleanly however:
      1. A Class – Grade 2 to low Grade 3
      2. Open Class – Middle Grade 3 to low Grade 4
      3. World Class – Middle Grade 4 – Grade 5 (or perhaps Grade 6 in Independent World Class)
    • It may line up better with some states’ 3 tiered Solo & Ensemble Classification
      1. A Class – Class C
      2. Open Class – Class B
      3. World Class – Class A

    6. Accountability is an important chapter in the Manual. I used Chris Hestin’s excellent slides on Accountability Through Numbers Management that he presented to the
    Percussion Judges:

    • Assigning Scores
      1. Every number we assign sends a message
      2. Not an exact science
      3. Working towards consistent application of the process
      4. Should feel comfortable discussing scores with staffs
    • Impression
      1. Initial impression to determine which Box, as per class expectations.
      2. Are the performers Experiencing? Discovering? Knowing? Understanding? Applying?
    • Analysis
      1. Divide the box into thirds
      2. Low-Mid-High
      3. [ some, some ][ most, most ][ all to some of the next box]
      4. Further refine score after filtering reactions through criteria
    • Comparison
      1. Once Impression and Analysis have honed in on a number, use tools to compare with any other competitors in that neighborhood
      2. Necessitates the use of Spread Guidelines to arrive at a number
      3. Message being sent in chosen spread
    • Spread Guidelines (see page 11)
    • [Adjust]
      1. Does not mean second guessing oneself
      2. Means being willing to be flexible and adaptive as new information comes into the comparison

    7. Rules and logistics that judges need to be aware of:

    • Wind groups must have a minimum of ten (10) members on the floor of competition at any time including the student conductor (optional).
    • Wind groups may use one optional student conductor positioned in the competition area.
    • The Music judge will be positioned low in the stands and may be moved by the Chief Judge in order to better appraise the individuals within the ensemble. The General Effect and Visual judges will be positioned higher in the audience viewing area. The Timing and Penalty judge will be positioned in the competition area. [Note: The Music Analysis judge will be in a position to evaluate balance as one of the descriptors, probably close to the other two judges.]
    • Each wind group, with all competing performers, shall remain in the competition area and be judged in all captions for a minimum of four (4) minutes.
    • The end of the maximum performance time is at the obvious conclusion of the show. All captions will be judged until the obvious conclusion of the show.
    • Winds groups may include a playing entrance as part of the performance following introduction. [Warm-up – groups may choose to do a warm-up before their show as actual winds warm-up time is limited.]
    • Judging begins with the announcement “…Performing their program (program title), WGI Sport of the Arts is proud to present (name of ensemble).”

    8. Critique

    • WGI’s philosophy is that the “critique belongs to the instructor.” (see page 19) This is their opportunity to ask questions and discuss their show and group. (This may be a new experience for instructors who are new to WGI.)
    • Each group will get 3 minutes with each judge at Regionals.
    • In the essence of using the time wisely, forego introductions and jump right into the discussion. “How can I help you? “ or “What would you like to discuss?” are good starters.
    • The critique is not a time for judges to rehash what you have already said on your recorded commentary. However, be prepared with 2 or 3 main points should the instructors not have questions or comments.
    • If the opportunity arises in scholastic classes, music judges should make the connection between indoor winds and concert bands reinforcing each other and using the same music education practices such as working on fundamentals.