By Chris Weber While drum corps are currently in their spring training modes of 12-hour rehearsal days filled with conditioning, visual basics and learning music and guard work, the Drum Corps International judging community is also hard at work preparing for the summer season. This past weekend more than 120 individuals gathered in Chicago for the 2004 Drum Corps International Judge Clinic.
"We prepare every season by gathering all of the judges together and basically give them a warm-up session to put them in the mindframe for their summer judging responsibilities," said John Phillips, DCI's judges administrator. "Virtually the entire DCI judging community is here this weekend representing all captions, from music to visual, to take part in a series of clinics and discussions about judging." Visual ensemble, composition and achievement, brass performance and a Division II & III judging workshop were among the topics covered in panel discussions and workshops held throughout the weekend. "The people running these workshops are not only DCI judges but also members of the instructional community who are part of the DCI taskforce on adjudication," said Phillips. "This task force is made up of a group of people that the corps directors and instructors elect to look at the judging system. Basically the way we judge is by mandate of the corps themselves. They are essentially the ones that determine the system and the direction they want the activity to move forward in." For the judges, this weekend is essentially their practice before starting the adjudication tour stopping at all shows across the country. "It's important for us to get together so we can prepare ourselves mentally for the season. We need to step back and evaluate the way we adjudicate so that we can develop our craft and evaluate how we judge throughout the season," said DCI judge Mark Petrash. "One of the judges' goals is to take an attitude that there is always more to learn and to have an open mind to those possibilities. The open exchange of ideas at these sessions helps us accomplish that." Phillips also stressed those same sorts of ideas and described the three most important concepts of the weekend for judges: Being open to the possibility of any corps having success. Being open-minded while judging and thinking outside the box, ready to respond to anything that comes up during an event. The practical application of those concepts. Throughout the weekend judges mock evaluated various visual and musical excerpts after which they compared results and discussed their findings. For the group of judges to be accountable for their responsibilities and to understand that judging is an extremely important part of the activity. Judges should take their roles seriously and go out and do the best job they can this summer. "The corps members and fans of DCI should be reassured that what goes on in these clinics is extremely meaningful and an excellent opportunity for judges to get together and learn more about their role in the activity and improve on what they do," Phillips said.
DCI judges Marie (left) and Gary Czapinski lead a judging session on Saturday.