As we prepare for adjudicated festivals through the year, I like to use group lessons as a chance for students to practice performing in front of peer “judges.” It’s a great opportunity for them to learn about what criteria a judge uses to evaluate a performance, and really listen to a piece and dissect it’s elements.
With my older students, I’ll often copy actual judge’s forms from festivals for students to fill out as they listen to each other perform. For this month’s classes, I created these simpler, colorful versions of a judge’s card for my elementary students:
Each card has four categories: notes, rhythms, details and performance. Listeners rate the performance by filling in an appropriate “smile” for each category: a squiggly face (meaning “Keep Working!”), a smile (“Almost there!”) or a BIG smile and crazy hair (“Awesome!”). In lieu of written comments, I asked students to verbally share and explain their ratings, then give positive suggestions as to elements that could be improved.
For group lessons, I printed several cards on colorful paper, laminated them and let students fill them out with wet-erase markers (a reusable alternative to printing LOTS of sheets of paper). I’m also planning to keep a small stack of these on plain paper to use in private lessons. Some students seem to thrive when they have a check-list or rubric to apply to each piece, and having a concrete list of things that must be mastered helps them to know just what they have to do to “pass” a piece. The more smiles filled in, the closer the piece to the finish line!