Drum Corps International


Judging "By the Numbers"

THE PROCESS of selecting a “winner” from among the world’s most elite and exclusive marching music ensembles is not an easy task.

Just ask any of the more than 120 highly-qualified professional men and women who comprise the DCI judging team in a given season. What might seem obvious on the surface may be masked by the complexity of Drum Corps International’s judging system which takes into account an entire process combining the creativity of a corps’ program and the outstanding performers who bring the show to life.

Drum corps competition demands excellence from performers and adjudicators alike. With the long-held philosophy that any corps can win a show on any given night, the judges’ training and experience ensure that competitive decisions are based on the performances they observe and not on a corps’ reputation or past performances.

Individual judges evaluate three separate visual captions and three separate music captions: Visual Analysis, Visual Proficiency, Color Guard, Music Analysis, Brass, and Percussion, which is sometimes covered by two judges. In addition, two judges cover General Effect, one with a Visual background, the other with expertise in Music.

  • Fans should note that DCI member corps create the judging system. Instructors and designers meet at regular intervals to present their views about how the system should be interpreted, refined and revised. This is the origin of the current adjudication philosophy.
  • The approach is further developed and delivered as a curriculum to the judges, who in turn put the system into practice during the competitive season.
  • While judges make individual determinations of placement and score, they do so with a significant amount of knowledge about how the system works and with the support of various tools to help make an informed and informative judgment.


Requirements to become a DCI Judge

Adjudication 101: Who Judges What?

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