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Report on Training Weekend


Judges and instructors met on 28-29 November for the 2010 kickoff training event with Education Director, William Chumley. The days were filled with lively discussion and video examples and practice judging exercises to foster discussion and to demonstrate the paradigms and expectations for the judges in the coming year. As you can see below, we covered many topics over the weekend. Please review and ensure that you understand what to expect in the coming season.

Taking It To The Next Level
All of the judges were ready to grow and be challenged, and we kicked off the meeting with a discussion of the areas to take it to the next level. This includes better numbers management, better and deeper recognition skills, and better tape dialogue. The key areas for improvement are in crediting musicality, depth of body and equipment design, and then recognising achievement within this new level. The list below includes everything we should be applying and improving. What I want to hear on tapes, and to see in scores, is clarity of reward for creative, high quality, musical achievement.

Numbers Management
While we made significant strides last year in assigning scores and in applying the value of a tenth, I feel there was not enough subcaption profiling nor spreads between some neighborhoods when you look within each class. The judges will continue to work on recognising strengths and achievement and reflecting that through profiling and through bottomline scores. Teams that achieve early should be rewarded for that and perhaps win those early shows. Teams that struggle with achievement of a more challenging book need to receive that message clearly and directly at any time during the season. In the end, the best team needs to win in each caption on any one day.

Given "digging into" the shows more, there could be more spread between neighborhoods and/or subcaptions. This growth in the judge recognition skills will be demanded and the scoring profiling expected. I would expect to see up to one point spread between a what score and a how score reflecting accurate "reading" of the program by the judge and identifying serious issues with the "achievement" of the performers. The converse is also true where we might see up to .5 tenths spread with the performers over the show if that is appropriate.

An example might look like:

Unit A 85 77 162
Unit B 83 83 166
Unit C 80 84 164

Clear messages are being sent and achievement is driving the outcome of the show.

Meaning of a Number
This is an area where the instructors need to better understand the judging process. A number only has meaning in the contest of the day. The primary responsibility of the judge is to rank and to rate. Number values are irrelevant other than in the application of the process at any one contest. While we might like to know what an 80 looks like, the scale is constantly changing as we gain more experience and exposure as to what the middle of Box 4 really means. 

It is not an expectation to see scores increase by two points each week. The judges are not to base their current evaluation and valuation on what has happened before. Truly, each contest is a clean slate and everyone starts from zero. 

In my opinion, this, along with movement choreography, is the biggest area for growth in both writing by the designers and in recognition skills by the judges. We spent much time reviewing video examples and discussing how musicality is portrayed through equipment and body. The community is comfortable with the overarching staging concepts and obvious musical moments. We need to step up, dig in, and challenge much more significantly in the area of musical interpretation and enhancement through the designs. When it is achieved, it needs to receive serious credit. This will be recognised in all classes and rewarded in all classes. It will be challenged and expected in the A and Open Classes. it will be a significant differentiator between teams.

Again, the key here is for the judges to recognise and reward musicality when written and when achieved. It adds value in all classes. It will be an expectation for the A and Open Class teams to achieve musicality in order to score in Box 4.

Depth of Design
Another area for growth is in the recognition of the depth and variety through design elements. This applies to both variety of effects and the depth and variety of compositional elements. I will send another note about repertoire versus composition qualities. In general, I expect to hear much more commentary as to the effectiveness and depth of equipment and movement choreography rather than just, "great rifle toss." If a team takes a mathematical approach to building from one to two to three, etc., that should be noted. Design elements used through body and equipment should be commented on and credited. There is a lot more going on than we are hearing on the tapes at present. We need to "step up" and deliver and we need to challenge the units to be more creative and detailed through body, equipment, and nuance. Although, this does not mean that every single count can be identified on the tapes. We should hear more about equipment and movement depth and range and its application to the repertoire, vocabulary, and composition.

Candor and Clarity
The judges are expected to be clear in their commentary on tape and in critique. It is time to "unleash candor" when it comes to demanding achievement, musicality, creativity, and depth. The judges are expected to recognise the following at each moment throughout the tape commentary: Who, What, How, Quality Level. We have asked the judges to "step up" in the area of recognition skills as to the depth and the achievement level and as to the quality level. For example, a comment needs to say, "the rifle phrase explores multiple planes fully reflecting the music. It is a very challenging phrase moderately achieved yet adding significant value to the composition/vocabulary/repertoire."

We will continue refining our understanding of achievement and rewarding it accordingly. It is one thing to see it attempted and another to see it achieved. You can try and fail and that will not be worth anything. Achievement exists in every word on every score sheet. This is about all that the performers are asked to do and how much of it they achieve. Individual errors do not affect any upstairs caption significantly. We must recognise the overall training level for the ensemble and the effectiveness of this (especially for the Cadets, Juniors, and As).

Excellence Versus Improvement
With improved recognition skills, units should be given a message as to where their vocabulary, composition, and repertoire lies relative to a score. With better recognition and no significant changes to a show, a "what" score may not change as much across the season. But the excellence scores may change as the performers improve at the show as written. If appropriate, I want and expect to see more spreads between the what and how numbers given achievement levels at earlier shows. 

The key for units here is to not expect automatic score increases just because the show became cleaner or the performers had a better run. The what scores are driven by the achievement of the performers in demonstrating the design. Additionally, just because the show changes doesn't automatically the show quality is better. Actually, the show could get worse and the scores should reflect the quality of the show design along with the achievement level of the performers. The judges are expected to comment on quality levels of design choices to better determine the score for a unit and to aid the unit in understanding how that score was determined.

Excellence Versus Uniformity
While we expect strong achievement levels from every class, there is a need to enhance our understanding of achievement as it relates to depth and variety of design, to musicality and expression, and to artistic efforts and sustaining of mood. The easiest thing for everyone to recognise is uniformity. Now, we must be able to determine the training level required to achieve that uniformity and how difficult the phrase truly was that appeared so clear. Some teams "make it look easy" and yet it could be an extremely challenging phrase, design moment, or effect. This must be recognised.

And as this relates to scoring, uniformity has its place and should receive credit. However, achievement is the true driver for all of the scoring decisions. 

Zoom In / Zoom Out - Digging In
The judging community is comfortable with judging the high level plans, the overarching journey, and the broad strokes within the designs that we see. This is a critical part of the package the units present. We need to grow in the area of digging into the shows more and recognising how effects are created, the ongoing responsibilities of the performers, the full depth and range of design elements, and the mental and physical challenges to the performers downstairs. This requires zooming in and out of the design and it requires speaking to the specific design and effect elements as they are presented in the body, equipment, and expression. This is the next level of expectation for dialogue and recognition from the judges.

Formula For Units Is Filter for Judges
Units are encouraged to follow a plan for putting their shows together. There is a formula for success that can be uniquely applied to every team. The elements of this formula include:

Be unique
Be musical
Be creative

As the judges review each show, they filter the impressions and reactions through both the lens of their caption and of these key ingredients. This should improve the input that the units receive and it will add depth to the commentary and to the scoring significance of the judges. These ingredients will help each team to maximise its product and potential, and will be easy areas to differentiate between competitive teams. 

WGI Tolerance
This year, A and Open Classes will be judged applying WGI standards and tolerances to the best of each judge's ability. Based upon home study, training review, exposure to other units, and feedback from the Education Director, we should see more consistency in numbers application and scoring ranges relative to the WGI standard. This is a slight modification to the tolerance applied to the Open Class last year. It is not expected to see arbitrarily lower scores. There may be more 

Box 5 Achievement
It was reiterated that part of the WGI philosophy and standard requires a unit to meet every criteria within Box 5 in order to gain entry to Box 5. This will apply to A and Open Classes only. this is a high standard for scoring a 90, the entry to Box 5. Additionally, as part of assigning a score judges work backward or downward from Box 5 to set upper limits. This may mean scores will be a bit more conservative as we reach those areas of the box. In general, as you go up the scale it should be harder and harder to gain tenths. The expectation rises as the scale increases.

Cadets and Juniors will be judged based on tolerances and experience with WGUK units only.

The judges reviewed several examples of guards that reflect paradigms for certain box descriptions. This review will continue at future training events. Look for another note that will speak to the classes and expectations for each class. This is an ongoing process of gaining community agreement as to what each class represents and as to what scores reflect the middle of Box 3 and 4 for example.

Home Study
The judges will have home study assignments to complete prior to the start of the season. This will continue to solidify our growth in depth of recognition and caption consistency.

Accountability Tapes
As part of the ongoing process of self evaluation, we will make accountability tapes following each class at a competition. These tapes were be for self reflection and for my review. They would include impressions and thoughts on each unit, what drove the final score and spreads between units, and any overall reactions following the class. To me, if there is time following each unit, it helps to make these tapes following each unit and then complete a summary recap of the class at the end. It is expected these tapes would be 30-45 seconds per guard. We will discuss this process more at the January training prior to the Cannock show. 

If you would to contact the Judges then email judges@wguk.org.uk or get in touch via our Contact Page.

8th December 2009