More than 120 Drum Corps International judges assembled in Chicago this past weekend to prepare for the upcoming competitive season. This is the third year such pre-season educational training seminars have been held. The goal is to equip the judges with the most up-to-date information on everything from what to do when you arrive at your destination to in-depth analysis and understanding of the philosophy of the judging system as determined by the DCI member corps.

DCI educational director/visual George Oliviero addresses the assembled crowd.
The weekend opened with a large group facilitation session hosted by DCI judge administrator John Phillips. With a large influx of new judges this year, the primary purpose of the evening was to allow judges to become better acquainted with each other and reveal common experiences from their marching music backgrounds.

The interactive session allowed the participants to collaborate on their understanding of a variety of logistical requirements for being a DCI judge, exploring the language of the adjudication sheets and discussing processes for arriving at scores. Additionally they explored techniques for effectively communicating during the critique sessions that follow each competitive event. The Saturday clinics covered both general topics for all judges such as general effect and specific sessions for brass, percussion and visual judges. DCI Judge Education Directors George Oliviero (visual) and Gary Markham (music) developed the instructional component. They were assisted by the DCI caption chairs Marie Czapinski (visual), Andrew Poor (brass) and Glen Fugget (percussion). As well, Task Force on Adjudication instructor representatives Scott Johnson, Bruno Zuccala, Mike McIntosh and Wayne Downey were present. In music, the judges examined how performer achievement is recognized and rewarded. David Bertman and Mike McIntosh presented a repeat of their workshop from the January instructor's meeting which provided a link in understanding of ensemble music requirements. A percussion ensemble workshop presented by DCI judge Jeff Prosperie was a highlight of the day. Jeff's practical demonstration of the various mallet techniques and their acoustical effect was both practical and entertaining. The music caption chairs also provided sessions that focussed specifically on brass and percussion adjudication techniques. Visual judges Bret Mascaro and Gene Monterastelli started the morning off with an informative session on field judging that provided veteran and new judges with a number of useful techniques for approaching this sheet. Art and design were linked to the elements of evaluation on the ensemble sheet in a creative session presented by DCI judge Phil Madden along with George Oliviero. Like the music judges, performer achievement was a focal point of discussion in examining all of visual captions including the color guard. Several overriding themes were evident throughout the weekend. Judges must continue to be positive, encouraging yet specific on areas for corps to improve on. As well, recognizing the achievement of the performer is very important in arriving at an accurate numeric rating and comparative ranking of the performances from night to night. Judge education continues throughout the summer with training sessions for new judges being held in Louisville, Ky., San Antonio and Indianapolis. There is also peer assessment and mentoring for existing judges all season. All judges are required to submit tapes of their work for feedback from their caption chairs. Additionally, the corps evaluate the judges using a specific rating scale and provide anecdotal commentary that is assembled by the judge administration team and reported to the judges following the competitive season. Based on the judges' feedback following this event, they are prepared and enthused about the opportunity to enjoy the many exciting performances that await them this summer.