When our students participate in Dallas MTA activities, I am asked frequently what judge’s scores mean and what they are judged on. DMTA does give clear guidelines to their judges, but we always remember that each critique is usually one person’s subjective opinion.
Scores go from I+, being the highest grade to III, being the lowest. There can be pluses and minuses attached each. Here’s a little about what the scores mean (taken from the DMTA handbook):
I+ : An artistic performance that has tonal variety and technical fluency. The music is projected with poise, imagination, stylistic freedom and rhythmic vitality.
I: An excellent performance, showing accuracy in notes and rhythm, tempo control, technical facility and continuity. This performance tends to lack the vitality and authority of artistry.
II: A prepared performance, mostly accurate in notes, rhythm, dynamics and memory, but lacking in one or more of the following areas: tonal beauty, balance, technical ease, awareness of phrasing, or appropriate tempo.
III: A tenuous performance with many inaccuracies. Practice habits need to be improved.
NFP: Further preparation needed in all areas.
We love our students to have their piece(s) memorized at least a couple of weeks before their performance date. This allows for solid memory and ownership of their piece(s). Often in those last couple of weeks, we are working on bring that piece “to life” and adding in all of the finishing touches to really lead to getting a I+ on their critique!
Activities such as Jazz/Pop Contest and Sonatina Festival allow students to get their critique and award immediately for that year. Achievement Auditions is different in that students get their critique and possible ribbon, but accumulate points each year they enter. Once they get to 15 points, which takes a minimum of 3 years, they get a trophy. Then, trophies are awarded every 10 points, so 25 points, 35 points, and so on. It really does emphasize the hard work and determination of each student!
Once teachers receive their student critique, we always read over it with our student in their next lesson. The opportunity to play in these festivals and contests allows our students to have another opinion on their playing and what they can do to improve their playing and musicianship.