Qualities of a Good Adjudicator

I just finished adjudicating several categories for the MDDC NATS auditions and the first thing I had to do was watch a video called

Adjudication 101: A MUST Watch

(And they weren’t kidding. You had to watch it in order to proceed.)

it’s an unlisted video so I won’t/can’t share it here, but I think it’s okay if I write down my takeaways from it, because I think that these are things that apply to being a good adjudicator, a good teacher, a good friend, and basically a good human being.

In this video, Dr. Mark McQuade, NATS National Coordinator of Competitions and Auditions, outlines 5 points that should be present in comment sheets and in scoring auditionees. These are:

  1. Encouraging
  2. Truthful
  3. Specific
  4. Tactful
  5. Legible

(The last one might not apply to anything other than adjudicator, but it’s still a good quality to have.)

As a teacher, I try hard to embody the top four. I’ve always said that I think that anyone walks into my studio is capable of going to Broadway or the Met until they prove otherwise (and that proof might be that they simply don’t WANT that for themselves, not that they can’t do it). So I think I have the encouragement part down.

(This is the opposite of how I approach other drivers on the road when going to DC – I assume they’re all morons until they prove me wrong).

I try to be truthful as far as the place that a student is in at this point in time, what I see them being capable of, and the difficulties that lie ahead in the event they decide to pursue a performing career.

I am pretty sure that the direction I give them is specific in terms of their technical development as well as the choices that they should make acting wise (giving them the freedom to expand upon that as needed).

Tactfulness – well, there’s something that I’m not sure I’ve mastered. I’m better than I used to be, but – I blurt, therefore I am. I am blunt, often to a fault. I think I’m less blunt in adjudicating strangers than I am with my own students. At least I am now.

My students are all being judged, probably as we speak, by people who have also been required to watch this video. I’m sure that they will all take these takeaways to heart in their judging. And will give them fantastic feedback which will (hopefully) reinforce the specific, encouraging, and truthful advice that I have given them – and maybe point out a few things that I might not have seen or in a way that I had not thought of. In a tactful and legible manner.

(One good thing about virtual lessons is that we’re all typing our comments instead of handwriting them, so they’re more likely to be legible!)

Whether you’re an adjudicator, a teacher, or do something else, I think these qualities are worth implementing into your own life – job-wise or relationship wise.

Next week I’ll let you know how everyone did.  😀


Published by Mezzoid Voice Studio

Christine Thomas-O'Meally, a mezzo soprano and voice teacher currently based in the Baltimore-DC area, has performed everything from the motets of J.S. Bach to the melodies of Irving Berlin to the minimalism of Philip Glass. As an opera singer and actress, she has appeared with companies such as Charm City Players, Spotlighters Theatre, Chicago Opera Theater, Opera Theater of Northern Virginia, Opera North, the Washington Savoyards, In Tandem Theatre, Windfall Theater, The Young Victorian Theater of Baltimore, and Skylight Opera Theatre. She created the role of The Woman in Red in Dominick Argento’s Dream of Valentino in its world premiere with the Washington Opera and Mary Pickersgill in O'er the Ramparts at its world premiere during the Bicentennial of Battle of Baltimore at the Community College of Baltimore County. Other roles include Mrs. Paroo in Music Man, Mother Abbess in Sound of Music, Dorabella in Cosi Fan Tutte, Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro, both Hansel and the Witch in Hansel & Gretel, and many roles in Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Her performance as the Housekeeper in Man of La Mancha was honored with a WATCH award nomination. Ms. Thomas-O'Meally received an M.M. in vocal performance from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. She regularly attends master classes and workshops in both performance and vocal pedagogy, and is certified in all three Levels of Somatic Voicework™ The LoVetri Method. Her students have performed on national and international tours of Broadway productions, at prestigious conservatories, and in regional theater throughout the country.

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