What Judges Are Looking For

If this is your first marching band adjudicated event, or if you are new to the world of marching bands, you may be wondering how the judges come to their conclusion in rating the performing bands! Perhaps the following will help you to understand the process of judging a band show.

OMEA began the use of a criteria reference system in the 2001 season. This criteria was established over two years of research and study, and implemented for the fall 2001 season. Judges were extensively trained in the summer at continuing education sessions. In order to progress from one rating to the next rating, each band must meet a certain set of criteria. This is listed on each judging sheet as well as on the OMEA web site at www. omea-ohio.org.

There are nine judges involved in the evaluation of the bands. Of these, two evaluate the “musical performance", two judge the “general effect" of the show, two judge the “visual program", one field judge is evaluating the “percussion" section, and two judges concentrate on all auxiliary units of the band. The Overall Final Rating will be determined by the addition of “ratings" from the music, general effect, visual, and percussion judges.

Music adjudicators evaluate the technical accuracy of the performance. They will concern themselves with how well the wind and percussion sections play together as well as evaluate the quality of the repertoire of music being performed. The score of the Percussion adjudicator will be averaged with the two music judges to determine the overall music score.

General Effect adjudicators evaluate the music and visual presentation of all performers, as well as the effectiveness of their performance is in the areas of creativity and imagination. They are also concerned with how well the music and marching drill coordinate to produce a unified production.

Visual Performance adjudicator assess the marching performance, evaluate the accuracy of marching definition, and evaluate the construction complexity of the patterns and designs with respect to the number of individuals utilized.

Visual Effect adjudicators will determine how well the visual (marching/choreography) program interprets the music and the coordination of all the visual aspects of the show.

Auxiliary adjudicators evaluate the musical interpretation through the use of visual design, choreography and equipment routines and equipment, movement and staging. These adjudicators also assess the performance excellence of the auxiliary performers in terms of uniformity, style, execution timing and precision. The Auxiliary ratings are not used to determine the overall final rating.

All adjudicators will use digital recorders plus official OMEA marching band adjudication rating sheets. Each band is scheduled in a fifteen minute time block, starting with an announcement from the announcer that the band may begin its pre-placement and/or warm up. A second announcement that the band may begin their performance will follow. “Show time" starts with the first step or the first note following the second announcement. The show must be a minimum of seven minutes and a maximum of eleven minutes.

Bands are entered into classifications based on the school enrollment grades 10–12, minus any vocational students who attend school “off campus". Bands may enter a classification higher but not lower than their school enrollment will allow.

Class AA


Class A


Class B


Class C
300 and below

All adjudicators must be selected from the Ohio Music Education Association (OMEA) approved listing of trained personnel.