Information for Judges


District Auditions gives students from grades 1-12 and adults an opportunity to play memorized pieces for an adjudicator and receive written comments for the student and teacher to go over together. (There are also options that allow students to perform with their music.) The student also takes a Music Theory Test that is appropriate for their age and skill level. Points are earned by participating in both of these activities. The points add up to incentive awards for continued improvement. All teachers who enter students in district auditions are expected to volunteer in the planning of their District’s Audition and to attend on Auditions Day.

What Judges do

Judges write comments and assign a number of points for each piece that students perform. There will be more details in the following information that addresses awarding points.

Are you interested in being a Judge for WMTA auditions! Click here.

Our students will thank you for it!

WMTA Philosophy 

  1. The role of the WMTA judge is to nurture musical talent. The WMTA adjudicator works in harmony with the teacher and parents in this important task. This is accomplished not only through specific, honest and constructive criticism, but also and equally important – through positive reinforcement and an appreciative, supportive and helpful attitude. The adjudicator must be as honest as possible when encouraging these students without compromising WMTA and their own standards.
  2. The WMTA auditions are designed for ALL students, not only the more talented and advanced students. It is important that teachers know they can enter any of their students and that the auditions will be a positive learning experience for all, no matter what ratings are achieved. Remember too, that even the best students need suggestions and inspiration for future development.
  3. Within a single site the adjudicator will be likely to hear several levels of advancement or maturity. Some comparisons are inevitable, but your student’s performance will be judged on its own merits in terms of evident preparation and musical communication. The judge will adjudicate on how well the student dealt with the music they had prepared rather than on a particular level of advancement.
  4. WMTA does not suggest that a certain percentage of rating sheets be at a specific point level. The adjudicator understands that slips and memory lapses may occur due to nervousness, an unfamiliar piano, surroundings, etc. How well your students deal with a memory lapse, a piano that has a problem or a large room will be given at least as much weight as the problem itself.
Adjudication Guidelines and Scoring Rubric

WMTA strives to maintain a high standard in their auditions. The grade the student receives reflects the ENTIRE performance of the piece. This includes: memorization where required, musicality, stylistic knowledge, technical facility, attention to detail, and presentation/stage presence, including attire and projected attitude. Below you will find more detailed instructions as to how we ask judges to encourage our students to continue to strive for those high standards.

In general, we ask that judges use sensible and motivating comments as well as constructive criticism to help the student learn from an audition experience. We want them to grow from the preparation for auditions as well as from a specific performance itself. The audition performance carries weight when students perform for other ears, for someone who will reinforce their (and their teacher’s) efforts and offer another viable viewpoint to consider.

WMTA District Auditions Scoring Rubric can be found here

A printable version of the scoring rubric can be found at the top of the rubric page. 

Judges’ guidelines for vocal/instrumental/ensemble (V/I/E) category judging: ENSEMBLE JUDGE INSTRUCTIONS

Additional Information
  1. Students participating in District Track auditions are not competing against other students. Each student should be judged individually based on their own performance.
  2. When giving your numerical rating for a piece, + and – are NOT ALLOWED, i.e. a 4+ or 5-.  Using pluses and minuses in the left column of the adjudication form, however, is encouraged.
  3. Take one point off the total combined score, for any student in grade 7 or above, who has not numbered every measure in each piece.
  4. Please confine your written comments to the student’s adjudication sheet rather than their music.
  5. Please write legibly.
  6. Make sure to assign a numerical score to each piece, and to sign your name to the bottom of the adjudication form.
  7. Support your ratings with your comments. As you write your comments, try to answer any questions you think the student or teacher would have asked you regarding the rating that you gave the student.
  8. The critique of the performance is to be mainly written comments so that the student and teacher can benefit from your words. No matter what rating the student receives, the written comments are what the student can learn from the most.
  9. Try to balance positive and negative comments. ALWAYS START WITH A POSITIVE COMMENT! All students need some praise and some suggestions for further growth. At the same time, be sure you identify and clarify why the rating you chose was not a high one. If the performance was excellent and the rating high, work to challenge the student to explore new layers of the music.
  10. Please remember that you are hearing young people and not mature adults. They are learning and growing as musicians and WILL make errors in their performances.
  11. Take into consideration the quality of the instrument and the acoustics of the room when giving a rating. Be sure to try the piano YOURSELF before the audition begins.
  12. Using language that is meaningful to the student as well as the teacher is important. Work to avoid using generic terms such as “good”, “fine”, and “nice”. Remember: the student is walking in the door thinking their piece is already “good”. More specific words will pinpoint exactly what you are thinking and assist the student in further exploration of the music. Compare “you have a nice sound” to “the depth of your tone in the opening of the Brahms was warm and inviting”.
  13. Be sure to write both general and specific comments. Use measure numbers when going into detail on a specific issue. A general comment such as “fantastic dynamics” is a place to start. Students and teachers will find it even more helpful, however, if you follow the general comment with something more specific such as “your dynamic contrasts shaped the line very well, especially in measures 25-29.”
For Regional Audition Tracks Only
  • Judging should not be more stringent for Regional Track auditions than for District 2, District 2-NM, and District 3 auditions.
  • For the Regional Track, parents are allowed in the room, depending on space limitations.
  • At the Regional Track level, students compete against other students at their grade level.  Winner, Runner Up and Honorable Mention are designated.
  • If they earn a total of 14 or 15 points in their performance plus a satisfactory theory test score of 80% or greater, the student has then earned the right to advance and compete in the Regional Competition later in the spring.
  • There is no limit as to the number of District Track students who advance to the Regional Competition.
Acceptable Performance Practice
  • Read any explanation of terminology or other information regarding the piece that may be given in footnotes or elsewhere on the page. Do not guess at any terms that are unfamiliar to you.
  • If the teacher has added or deleted details into the score, please judge these details as part of the whole performance.
  • Acceptable Baroque practices are:
    • Ornamentation maybe added on the repeat.
    • Phrasing slightly different than indicated within the Baroque style.
    • Pedal used as a connecting tool.
    • Terraced dynamics.
  • Repeats are performed at the discretion of the teacher and student.
  • For Sonata or Sonatinas, a single movement, or more than one movement, maybe be performed. If more than one movement is being performed, please pay special attention to the time – you may need to “cut-off” the student to stay on schedule (unless it is a high school senior – this was addressed above in the “Staying on Schedule” section.)
  • DO NOT ADD YOUR PERSONAL PREFERENCES when judging repertoire.
In WMTA, Disqualification is defined as the student still performs and receives written comments, but is not awarded points.
  • Any situation regarding disqualification needs to be brought to the immediate attention of the District Chair, not the student or parent.
  • NEVER let on that the student’s piece(s) will be disqualified in front of the student or parent (and even the room monitor), as it will further affect their entire performance and audition experience negatively. This information is only between the judge and district chair.
The following infractions result in disqualification for the piece(s):
  1. The use of any recording devices or equipment in the room.
  2. Student or parents talking or conversing with the judge regarding the performance of any student.
  3. Student or parent challenges the district chairperson in any situation that requires the district chairperson to make a decision in regard to student eligibility or points awarded.
  4. If a student is disrespectful or argumentative, the judge reserves the right to ask the student to leave without performing and the student will not receive any points.
  5. Photocopied music in place of a published score. EXCEPTIONS: A page may be copied (with the original present) to facilitate a page turn for District 2-NM and District 3 students. Accompanists may use photocopied music as long as the actual book is present. Scores purchased and printed from online are accepted, as long as it was cleared by the District Chair in advance; that should be communicated to the judge beforehand.
  6. If the judge’s copy is not brought to site, no points are given for that piece(s), only comments! The judge is asked to give the best critique they can without a score in front of them to consult.
  7. If the student performs a piece different than what was registered for, i.e., if a piece is NOT one listed on the adjudication forms. The student must perform the piece(s) they registered for.
  8. If a student needs to use music for a piece in which memory is a requirement, they will receive comments only. Changing tracks audition day is not allowed.

Please write DISQUALIFIED (or DQ) at the bottom of the adjudication sheet in lieu of a numerical score, and also write the reason why.

General Information about Track and Repertoire

All participants perform a minimum of two pieces and take a written and aural musicianship (music theory) exam. Specific requirements vary depending on the instrument and track entered. See the table below.

The tracks that students may enter are:

District 2: Two memorized pieces

District 2 Non-Memorized (D2-NM): Two pieces, performed with music

District 3: Two memorized pieces, one with music

Regional and State Track: Three memorized pieces

Adults may enter any of the above tracks, however, memory is required only on the Regional/State Track. They receive critique and points just as the students do.

All “District” entries participate at the district level only – meaning they do not advance onto another event.

Only students who enter the Regional track are eligible to advance on to the State competition if they are 4th grade and above, and receive 14/15 total points on performance, as well as a certain threshold on their theory test, at the District Auditions.

  District 2 District 2 District 2-NM District 3 Regional/State Track
Grades Eligible 1 – 6 7 – 12 7 – 12 7 – 12 Regionals: 4-12State 7-12 Regional Winners only
Must perform: 2 pieces 2 pieces 2 pieces 3 pieces 3 pieces
Contrasting Time Periods Required? No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Memorization requirements: Yes No Yes Yes Yes
PIANO All All None 2 pieces, 1 not All
ORGAN 1 piece 1 piece None 1 piece 1 piece
INSTRUMENTAL Optional Optional N/A Optional 1 piece
VOICE All All None 2 pieces, 1 not All

* Students in grades 1-3 may enter Regional Track at the District Auditions for points and experience with performing and memory work.  However, these students are not eligible to advance to the Regional competition. Only grades 4-12 can advance to Regionals from Districts. Only Winners grades 7-12 advance from State to Regionals.

Repertoire Requirements

Selections chosen be contrasting in nature (mood, tempo, character, articulations etc.) Please see other information in the table below:

Arrangements No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Transcriptions Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Student Compositions No No No No No
Folk/Spiritual Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Pop/Classical Pop/Top 40 No No No No No
Musical Theater No No No Yes No
Audition Lengths

Depending on grade level, each student is given 8-15 minutes with the judge (see the table below).  A brief warm-up and the your time for writing comments is included in this short period.

Maximum scheduled performance time shown below. Students and Teachers may NOT extend beyond the below time.

Track Entered Grades 1 – 6 Grades 7 – 9 Grades 10 – 12
District 2 10 10 12
District 2-NM 10 10 12
District 3 N/A 12 15
Regional Track 10 12 15
State Track N/A 15 15
Judging: Auditions Day

Please thoroughly read all of the adjudicating information for WMTA Auditions. These materials include the goal of WMTA Auditions, judging guidelines and scoring rubric, as well as repertoire and memorization requirements. Contact the district chair with questions prior to the auditions day if possible or ask your questions at the Judges’ Orientation Meeting that morning.

Beginning the Audition Day
  • Dress appropriately. The student is being asked to dress for a successful performance, and your appearance is a model to them.
  • Plan to arrive 25-30 minutes prior to judging, to attend the judges orientation meeting and refresh your beverage. Ask any questions regarding the day.
  • Communicate with your assigned door monitor in regard to timing of opening the door, bringing the next student into the room, etc.
  • Take a couple of minutes to try out the piano in your room, and BE SURE to tell each student or accompanists about any issues with the instrument, or ask the room monitor to tell them.
Interacting with the Students
  • Make eye contact and smile when the student enters the room and use some verbal interaction with the student.
  • For pianists, encourage the student to try the piano and give the student a fair chance at warming up. Make sure to tell them if there are any issues with the instrument.
  • Have the room monitor (not the student’s teacher) help the smaller children adjust the bench.
  • For District 2, District 2-NM, and District 3, it is a closed audition. For Regional Tracks, parents are allowed in the room, depending on space limitations.
  • For the State Keyboard Competition, all performances will be public, in the Recital Hall, with admission paid for entrance.
  • Vocalists and instrumentalists should not warm up in the performance room.
  • To help students feel more comfortable, you can explain that you are not only the judge, but just another teacher giving them suggestions and ideas.
  • Offer a few positive personal words when the student completes their performance or provide a simple “Thank you for playing” as the student exits.
Using the Adjudication Form
  • The critique of the performance is to be mainly written comments so that the student and teacher can benefit from your words. No matter what “rating” the student receives, the written comments are what the student can learn from the most. It is important that your comments support the rating that is given.
  • Judge all performances, including the Regional Track, for that performance only.  We also recognize students in the State Track, specifically, will have additional time between the District and Regional Auditions to improve their pieces. As such, WMTA encourages judges to keep this in mind when assigning points. 
  • Please take into consideration, and give as much weight to how well the student recovers from a memory slip as to the slip itself.
  • Take one point off, for any student in grade 7 or above, who has not numbered every measure in each piece.
  • Please write legibly.
  • Please make sure that you are writing on the correct form/page for the piece being performed.
  • Remember to circle a numerical rating for each piece, and make sure to sign your name at the bottom of the adjudication form.
  • When giving your numerical rating for a piece, + and – are NOT ALLOWED, i.e. a 4+ or 5-. Using pluses and minuses in the left column of the judging form, however, is encouraged.
  • If a rating is less than a “4”, please be sure to offer adequate feedback so the student and teacher understand why they received that rating. Many teachers and students often look at any rating of a “3” or less to be a low rating. Of course, written suggestions and compliments are still encouraged even for the students who receive “4”s and “5”s.
  • Please see the Judging Guidelines page for the scoring rubric, additional guidelines; and the Disqualification page for important information on Disqualification.
Staying on Schedule
  • Try not to take too much time between pieces. Use the student schedule you’ve been given in your folder to be aware of the time. This will help keep you on schedule. If you are far behind and judging at district auditions, ask the chairperson to take a couple of students and give them to another judge, so you can get back on schedule.
  • If pieces are too long for the allotted time, please gently “cut-off” the students’ pieces to fit. Students and Teachers are aware they must stick to the time allotted.
  • DO NOT cut out an entire piece to get back on schedule.
At the end of your Adjudication Day
  • Fill out your expense sheet with your hours worked  and return it to the chairperson along with the judging folder. Also, fill out the “Judges Information Form” so you can be added to the database and be called to judge again in the future.
  • Return the room the way you found it at the beginning of your day. Destroy any copied music you obtain during the day.
  • Drive home safely knowing you have encouraged and helped to shape a child even more in their journey of learning a musical instrument.