JUDGING: SCSBOA Championships judges may hold an unfair bias for some high schools.
By Cameron Brewer, Staff Writer
On November 25, 2017, Poly’s Proud Heritage Band and Color Guard participated in the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association’s (SCSBOA) Championships for 5A bands. Based on their sizes, bands are placed into a category, with the 1A being for bands with less than 50 members, all the way up to 6A, for bands with more than 150 members. The judges watch the performances and give scores based on how well the bands executed their show. This includes areas such as music performance, visual performance, and auxiliary (the guard). These scores are combined and then averaged with more of an emphasis on the areas of performance held by the head judges. There are 12 bands in the 5A division, and Poly got 7th place overall with a score of 87.80 out of 100. Another band that was present, Vista High School Regimental Band and Pageantry Corps, finished second place with a score of 93.20. The year before, Poly finished 7th with an 85.15, and Vista finished 1st with a 90.55. However, some evidence about the identity of the judges casts some doubt onto the validity of Vista’s scores.
This year, there were 9 judges on the panel analyzing all of the bands performing. In the 2016 championships, the Head Judge was Ralph Ewell, the current band director for Vista’s band. Now, he may have remained objective for Vista’s band performance, but there is still that tiny bit of doubt that remains present. Because he worked with them day in and day out to perfect the show, he may have picked up on details that made their show appear better than someone seeing it for the first or second time, who may miss these details.
That was all last year, but how should people account for this year? Well, this year Vista placed second in Championships, but they still received an incredibly high score of 93.20. This year, Vista’s current band director was not the head judge. However, there were still former Vista band directors on the judging panel. Ken Gammie recently retired from teaching at Roosevelt Middle School as a music instructor for 27 years. Before that, he spent a decade as the Band Director for Vista. He was the head judge for logistics. John Vorwald was the head of directors for Vista’s band and was the head judge at Championships for adjudication.
As was mentioned, this may all be a moot point. These three judges may have remained objective for their former and/or current band and judged them based solely on the quality of their performance. However, because of that tiny kernel of doubt, it questions the credibility of the scores given, since these three have a direct connection with the band that placed incredibly high in Championships. Does this mean the scores given are invalid? No, and all that is being asked is that future judges are selected without any connections to the performing bands, slight or otherwise.