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Brad361
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2020 2:22 pm    Post subject: Reality rant Reply with quote

I’ll keep this brief.

Some of my lesson students had their solo contest over the weekend, I’ve been looking at some of their comment sheets from the judges.

I totally agree and understand that we want kids to be encouraged and continue to play, but it’s doing them a disservice to give them a first division rating when they made almost no attempt at preparation and could barely stumble through the piece. Most of the comments on the sheet from the judge in one particular case were beyond optimistic, and were flat wrong. The majority of my students prepared and did ok though, some were very well prepared, they PUT IN THE TIME.

I get it, especially in middle school a big part of our job is to keep them playing until they get to high school, and to be positive and encourage them. But when kids are rewarded for things that they didn’t do and didn’t deserve, that’s not proper preparation for the adult world, in music or anywhere else.

I would be really interested to hear from you guys who teach full-time in the public school system. Am I just being a cranky old dinosaur?

Soapbox dismount.😳

Brad
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Rompson
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2020 3:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Was this “local” solo & ensemble or “state” solo and ensemble? When I was in school if you showed up, had a heartbeat, and made it through the piece at “local” solo and ensemble you pretty much passed through on to state solo & ensemble. No one I knew ever got below a score of 2 (with 1 being the highest) no matter how little they prepared. I suppose that the idea was just for the kids to get some experience playing outside of a band setting.

The real judging happened at State Solo & Ensemble, where the judges were more critical. I don’t remember any overly optimistic scores there. Sounds like that one judge in particular was inexperienced or was maybe trying to be overly encouraging.
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Brad361
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2020 4:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was just the local contest. When I was in school most people did get firsts too, but a second was entirely possible. I totally choked on a high school solo and got a 2.

In one case here though, the student NEVER practices (I’ve had discussion with the parent), and could barely stumble through the solo. It’s not a big deal, but rewards for something you don’t deserve are inappropriate.

Brad
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Turkle
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2020 4:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In my experience, different contests in different communities have wildly different standards. Furthermore, these standards can change over time.

My mother helped run a music competition for children for about 15 years. She developed a very specific judging rubric that left no room for doubt about what should be awarded to the performer for what reasons. She also personally trained the judges every year to adhere to those standards. Nevertheless, despite her heroic efforts, the judging ended up considerably laxer than when she started. Just different cultural norms 15 years later!

Our state-affiliated contests were judged at a stricter level than the regional ones, but I have spoken to friends that grew up in different states whose music contests were MUCH stricter than the ones I grew up with. So there is wide variation across the US.

All of which is to say that there is no "right" or "wrong" way to do it, and what is perceived as correct will change over time according to the artistic and parenting standards of the community.

I think that the most important thing is to train the judges to be consistent, so that everyone can be confident that they received the marks they deserve. It's generally pretty obvious when the judges didn't do a consistent job and the kids get really hurt about it.

I tentatively agree that over time standards for judging kids on their artistic efforts have gotten more lax, generally in an effort to encourage kids to participate joyfully without unnecessarily strict disciplinary/judgment regimes on top of them. OK, I'm not 100% happy about it either. But I'd much rather err in that direction than go full-psycho the other way where parents are needlessly cruel to their children in their artistic/sports endeavors because they think that hurting kids and establishing strict hierarchies of achievement is the only way to teach children how the world works. We all know the type. That's not good for the adults or the kids.

Finally, I'll say that in middle school it just plain isn't a big deal. Just encourage kids to keep playing and get them accustomed to performing for critical audiences. Once they reach high school they'll be mature enough to be subjected to stricter grading rubrics. But I think that in middle school they are just plain too young for that. Let the kid play the horn.

I hope this is helpful. Cheers.
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kehaulani
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2020 5:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I returned to the U.S. from Germany (where they don't kiss anybody's butt), I attended a H.S. marching band's rehearsal. Every time the director had to make a criticism, he preceded every comment by first complementing the student about something they did right, then directing the student in correcting what they did wrong.

In Germany, the Netherlands and other countries, as well as how I was brought up in the U.S., they just would have pointed out what you did wrong and corrected it. You can do this nicely in a non-confrontive manner. But you don't have to suck up to the other person first.

And now, I see this in many situations. So, I guess one can say it's social or cultural or age-rlated, but to me it just says there's trouble down the line.
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Brad361
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2020 5:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That IS helpful, thanks.

I do realize that this is just middle school, and the last thing I want to do is make lessons unpleasant for the student.....so I tread that fine line between pushing the student enough so they make progress, and pushing too hard.
I do think it’s unfortunate though when a judge gives a student who makes no effort by practicing at home unrealistic compliments, it sort of undermines what the teachers and the parents are telling the student.

It’s just middle school, and it’s about keeping a student interested and enjoying music, I totally get that.

Brad
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Brad361
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2020 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kehaulani wrote:
When I returned to the U.S. from Germany (where they don't kiss anybody's butt), I attended a H.S. marching band's rehearsal. Every time the director had to make a criticism, he preceded every comment by first complementing the student about something they did right, then directing the student in correcting what they did wrong.

In Germany, the Netherlands and other countries, as well as how I was brought up in the U.S., they just would have pointed out what you did wrong and corrected it. You can do this nicely in a non-confrontive manner. But you don't have to suck up to the other person first.

And now, I see this in many situations. So, I guess one can say it's social or cultural or age-rlated, but to me it just says there's trouble down the line.


I was brought up in much the same way, “results not excuses”, if you didn’t prepare or do what was expected there were consequences. Society today has become so concerned with any kid’s feelings being hurt that standards have been lowered, and everyone gets a trophy just for showing up. That does two things: it gives kid expectations of attitudes that they won’t see in the real world, and it lessens the sense of pride that the kids who DO excel feel.

I understand that middle school is middle school, but at what age should kids be introduced, gently and kindly but realistically, to some of what they will see as adults?

Brad
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Craig Swartz
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2020 7:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I quit judging "contests" years ago because I actually gave ratings that were commensurate with the scale, which was (at the time)
I: A Superior performance in nearly every manner
II: An Excellent performance with some slight deficiencies
III: An Average performance lacking in some polish and finish (Where the majority are...)
IV: A performance lacking in preparation or beyond the capabilities of the performer
V: A performance obviously lacking preparation

Perhaps the best thing to do with young students would be to hold a "recital" in a non-competitive nature as a first stop at preparing for some sort of competition. Provide everyone some sort of certificate/perk to take home for showing up. Perhaps even pick a "Best in Center" award or something for a truly great performance as an incentive for the one(s) who will put forth some extra effort or who are truly blessed with talent and ability.

After that first performance in front of others, and it would be great to have feedback, either written or oral, those wanting to move on to a more competitve situation could do so, realizing ahead of time that not everyone will receive (as opposed to "earn") the same score.

I am a performance proponent- what is music if it is not to be heard by others in some sort of performance venue? Music is an aural art form. Regardless of competition, everyone knows a good performance and they also know when someone is just spreading BS for sub par playing. I did this grind for 40+ years and I can feel for you, Brad. Schlock does not motivate excellence on the one hand but not all performances need to be "judged", either. The best we can hope for is that something along the way will motivate a student to try to improve his/her/its ability in what ever endeavor is being attempted- music, athletics, academics, name it. That total lack of real motivational influence and search for true excellence in nearly every aspect of public education is why I'm glad I'm now retired from all this. Oh, we do score highly in self-esteem... Good luck.
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Brad361
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2020 3:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with Craig!!☝️

Brad
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cgaiii
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2020 2:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Essentially, we are being politically corrected into lying so people do not feel bad. I see this in all contests I see judged these days. I still believe that constructive criticism is best, but it is basically not allowed.
Note: I am not in the public school system (would not survive there) and contests I have worked with are all amateur and unimportant. I feel, though, that the kids are being done a great disservice if constructive criticism is not made. No need to be insulting, demeaning, domineering, etc. You point out the good and what needs improving. I believe it is pretty much illegal to do so these days.
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Brad361
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2020 3:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cgaiii wrote:
Essentially, we are being politically corrected into lying so people do not feel bad. I see this in all contests I see judged these days. I still believe that constructive criticism is best, but it is basically not allowed.
Note: I am not in the public school system (would not survive there) and contests I have worked with are all amateur and unimportant. I feel, though, that the kids are being done a great disservice if constructive criticism is not made. No need to be insulting, demeaning, domineering, etc. You point out the good and what needs improving. I believe it is pretty much illegal to do so these days.


This.

Brad
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dacapo742
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2020 5:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I might suggest you speak with the student's band director and share your concerns about the adjudicator. The State run adjudicated events "system" where I taught for many years (Ohio) has a way to critique the adjudicator. I found that most judges, especially novice ones, welcomed a solid critique that included suggestions for improvement. Thinks of it as judge education making the experience stronger for future musicians.

Dave
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Brad361
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2020 5:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dacapo742 wrote:
I might suggest you speak with the student's band director and share your concerns about the adjudicator. The State run adjudicated events "system" where I taught for many years (Ohio) has a way to critique the adjudicator. I found that most judges, especially novice ones, welcomed a solid critique that included suggestions for improvement. Thinks of it as judge education making the experience stronger for future musicians.

Dave


Well....based on what I’ve seen over the years, I really don’t think that’s the way to go. I did a fair amount of marching band contest judging in the 80’s, attitudes we see today are just different.
This doesn’t seem to be isolated to one judge, and the general attitude in society today unfortunately is probably more in line with this particular judge.

Hey, this is far from catastrophic, but I think kids would be better served in most all areas by more real world attitudes.

Brad
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Rompson
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2020 6:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So Brad...since the school system is unwilling/ unable to be real with this kid, are you gonna lay down the law and tell them the truth at the next lesson? How are you going to go forward?
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Brad361
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2020 9:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rompson wrote:
So Brad...since the school system is unwilling/ unable to be real with this kid, are you gonna lay down the law and tell them the truth at the next lesson? How are you going to go forward?


Nope, for a couple of reasons: it’s a middle school kid whose parents coerce them to be in band and take lessons, my taking a tough approach is just going to make the kid dislike band even more. I’ve had conversations with the parent, let’s just say their approach to parenting is “laid back”, to put it diplomatically.

Plus, it’s not my band. The status quo is what it is, and generally speaking the directors do an overall good job, IMO. I’m hired help here, and my opinions are no more than that, my opinions. These guys KNOW this kid in particular puts forth very little to no effort, if they want to “lay down the law”, THEY’RE the ones who should do it. And in fairness, the majority of students in this program do put forth an acceptable, and some more than just acceptable, amount of effort.

Brad
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mike ansberry
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2020 10:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I complained to the guy who ran our district solo & ensemble festival about ratings being given away like candy. On more than one occasion I had a student going to perform and I told them that they had not done the work and were playing poorly and could expect a poor rating. When they were rated "superior" they came back and said "see, I don't have to work". So what did they learn that day? The guy in charge told me that if I didn't like it I should not bring students. So I never took kids back.

Same district: I was judging in a room where a senior in high school came in unprepared, absolutely trashed the solo, then while crying said he wished he had practiced. I gave him a V. No, that isn't right. He EARNED a V. They never invited me to judge again. That suited me just fine.

Back when I was a boy in Missouri if you got a Superior rating at District Festival you had really done something. And that earned you the right to perform at State Solo & Ensemble Festival. If you got a Superior rating there you REALLY did something.
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HERMOKIWI
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 05, 2020 2:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What's being reported/observed here is basically the movie "The Harder They Fall" applied to instrumental music students. The movie is centered on a boxer who couldn't crush a mosquito with his punches but, unknown to him, his promoters fix all his fights with the result that he "wins" them all. Because he keeps "winning" he thinks he's a great boxer. However, one day he learns the truth and he has to fight the world champion in a real fight that isn't fixed. The result is pretty ugly.

The frustration we feel with students who receive underserved praise has a lot to do with our sense of justice, our feeling that there should be a proper order to things. Objectively, we are not personally compromised when an undeserving student receives an accolade. Instead, our sense of justice is upset and we want our conception of the proper order of things to be restored. We want real effort and real achievement to be recognized and contrasted with a lack of effort and a lack of achievement. Our sense of justice recoils at the thought of the line between achievement and mediocrity being blurred.

In an absolute sense, regardless of the "rating" awarded to a student, the skill of the student is still the responsibility of the student and is still defined by the mirror of reality. One of the problems here is that students tend to rate themselves in comparison to their peers rather than in comparison to a fixed standard. This condition, no doubt, carries over to some extent to the practice of judging students: An average student sounds great in comparison to a mediocre student with the result that the rating system is skewed to define mediocrity as the standard of comparison.

Fighting against this system does not change the objective results. Great students are still great students. Average students are still average students. Mediocre students are still mediocre. A rating does not change the reality. In teaching we are all best off to focus on reality and take the myth of "ratings" with a grain of salt.

The biggest problem I encounter with talented students is their attitude that they are good "enough." They are significantly better than their peers and are receiving top grades. As a result, they don't feel a sufficient need to become better players. They're content to stay where they are and no amount of coaxing gets them motivated otherwise.

When they get out in the real world they get a reality check: There are players who are light years beyond them. What happens next? They give up playing entirely and then, twenty or thirty or fifty years later, they say "You know, I wish I'd kept it up."

Too little too late.
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Brad361
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 05, 2020 7:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think both mike and HERMOKIWI make excellent points, as have others.

In the case of the particular student who prompted my “rant”, I guess the undeserved rating really doesn’t matter, this person will very likely quit within the next couple of years, and the truth is, how many kids who play as children continue in to adulthood?

I still believe that this sort of “everyone is wonderful” treatment of kids is doing them a tremendous disservice, but that’s the state of things today, my opinions are not going to change that.

Brad
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 05, 2020 8:44 am    Post subject: reality rant Reply with quote

Quote:
I still believe that this sort of “everyone is wonderful” treatment of kids is doing them a tremendous disservice


ABSOLUTELY...agree with you 150%! I taught public school Instrumental Music ( mostly elementary level) for 32 1/2 years. I saw this type of thinking slowly progress over my long career. It got to the point where they did away with letter grades ( A, B, C-F )...to satisfactory, unsatisfactory, etc.) to the point where you could NOT tell a kid he was failing! You could NOT group them in classes of "like-ability". I witnessed it first hand when these students got a little older...ventured out in to "Real world" situations...they crumbled if they got cut from a sports team, didn't get a job they wanted because they weren't qualified for it, etc. These decisions that individuals make with young children have MANY ramifications, good AND bad, as they continue in life. IMO...telling them the TRUTH and helping them with their problems is the best course of action for them going forward.

Butch
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 05, 2020 8:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"They keep creating new ways to celebrate mediocrity." Mr Incredible
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