Just like performing corps members, annually Drum Corps International’s team of adjudicators head to the “practice field” for a preseason refresher and training session to get them focused, informed and ready for the summer ahead.

Last Saturday, for the first time ever, that training summit was handled by way of an interactive webcast that featured judging primers, panel discussions, and plenty of question and answer sessions that made DCI judges logging in to watch from all over the country active participants during the seven-hour event.

“While we have utilized webinars, conference calls and online training modules in the past, the opportunity to hold a virtual classroom experience was both unique and effective for us,” DCI Judge Administrator John Phillips said.

Some of Drum Corps International’s most seasoned judges served as presenters while covering an array of topics from policies and procedures, to an in-depth look at the elements and principles of drum corps show design. “We took a 360-degree-look at all aspects of the evaluation process,” Phillips said.

In bygone years, training seminars for judges were held as in-person conferences in the spring. Phillips said that he and DCI Artistic Director Michael Cesario approached DCI Executive Director Dan Acheson earlier this year to propose a judges’ training webcast as a cost effective and convenient way to organize the group of men and women who make up the team of DCI’s professional adjudicators.

Working with DCI office staff on the technical side of the webcast and with DCI’s judge admin team on the content, Phillips said that several months went into planning the agenda and curriculum for the event.

While there have been no new rules changes implemented for the summer of 2015 (the DCI Rules Congress in recent years has been returned to a biennial process), Cesario says that this year’s training allowed DCI judges to “reinforce the tenets and intent of the current system, allowing us all to be ‘on the same page’ as the summer gets underway.”

For Phillips, being able to bring his team together for instruction and thoughtful discussion is paramount as the competing drum corps consistently expand the boundaries of creativity on a year-to-year basis.

“Since the corps continue to evolve and explore innovative and creative ideas through their music and visual design, so too must the judges keep pace and be able to recognize and reward these high standards of achievement,” he said.

Cesario concurred: “Together, we're moving to find balance at the intersection between Art and Entertainment. Our artistic growth as an activity requires the judges to continue to apply the revered method of ‘Impression, Analysis, and Comparison’ in innovative ways.”

Approximately 90 percent of DCI judges participated in Saturday’s webcast live, including this year’s class of judge training candidates. Those unable to attend have access to a replay of the webcast.

DCI Judges will first take the field this summer as the Drum Corps International Tour kicks off on Wednesday, June 17, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

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