What is an adjudicator?

According to Wikipedia, an adjudicator is someone who presides, judges, and arbitrates during a formal dispute or competition. They have numerous purposes, including preliminary legal judgments, to determine applicant eligibility, or to assess contestants’ performance in competitions.

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However, it is not simply about making a judgment and awarding a prize, since, in music adjudication, once the performance is over, feedback is delivered. This is usually given as a lecture in which the student can also ask important questions. This strategy promotes conversation with the adjudicator providing the performer through a masterclass experience.

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Who can be an adjudicator?

The adjudicators are usually music teachers, knowledgeable about an instrument or performance, and for this reason, they have been invited to participate as judges. Often they come from other places and sometimes the payment is low or they are not paid. Therefore, it is important to understand that it is about aptitude and vocation.  Adjudicators, at the moment of delivering feedback, offer all their knowledge and technique to the students’ performance. Not only do students benefit from the critique, but directors will also have a clearer idea of the student’s strengths and weaknesses. Judges and adjudicators benefit since they listen and thus improve their listening techniques and communication skills because their comments should be constructive and encouraging.

Adjudication can be given publicly or privately and in writing and verbally. Generally, public adjudication is offered at the end of the performance. The main objective of the public adjudication is to focus on how the elements work together, rather than focusing on a single member of the group. Private adjudications are more conversational and can help the adjudicator define how to distribute the prizes. The Adjudicator will provide a detailed evaluation, with a slightly more critical attitude, but always provide support and positive observations.


Some recommendations to obtain a good result is to present a performance according to the aptitudes and evolution of the student. “It is better to play Bach beautifully than to play Brahms badly.” A key factor in the success of a good adjudication is choosing the right score. It is also important to provide a varied repertoire because if a group with the same style and the key is presented, the judge will not have a point of contrast which can reduce points. And finally, keep in mind the clothing, although it should not matter, it positively influences the judges.

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