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Music Department Handbook

Concert Assessment

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Concert Assessment | Eligibility for Concert Assessment | Blue Ribbon Award

Concert Assessment

IMPORTANT:  Please note that while this section is specific to Concert Assessment, all of the information included below pertains to any adjudicated performances or competition (i.e. Music in the Parks, National Orchestra Festival, etc...)


Concert Assessment is an opportunity for each instrumental and choral ensemble, throughout the entire Commonwealth of Virginia, to perform for adjudication by judges, who will determine the current level of achievement for each performing ensemble.  Concert Assessment is the most important performance of the year for each performing ensemble at Passage Middle School.


Some educators attempt to compare the Concert Assessment experience to the Virginia Standards of Learning Test experience.  Unfortunately, while Concert Assessment is considered to be as important and as rigorous of an experience as the SOL test, it is actually more intense and more critical. 


In a comparative evaluation of the VBODA/VCDA Concert Assessment with the Virginia SOL Test, the following criterion should be considered:

  • Where an SOL evaluation is administered and completed privately and individually behind a computer screen for most students, a Concert Assessment evaluation is administered on a stage, in a very public manner in front of three judges.

  • This comparison of the SOL Raw Score (scale of 600 points) with the tiered Concert Assessment Rating (scale of five points, where a rating of I is a Superior Rating, and a rating of V is a Poor Rating) will be combined based on a performance ratio (in the form of a percentage).

  • A musical performance that is performed 100% correctly requires perfect rhythm (note duration), intonation (notes in tune), tone quality (the desirability of the sound), expression (characteristic of each note), balance (melody being the loudest, with harmony and bass lines being secondary) amongst other more technical evaluations according to the adjudication rubric.  This would be the equivalent of a raw score of 600 on the SOL test.

  • A musical performance that is performed at 98% correct would actually begin to sound wrong.  Notes would begin to not sound together, some notes would be out of tune, the tone quality would begin to diminish, expression would not be as succint, and the performance would start to sound out of balance.  Although a performance at 98% would begin to sound less musical, in the five tiered rating system, it would still earn a rating of SUPERIOR (I).  This would compare to a raw score of 588 on the SOL test.  

  • A musical performance that is performed at 96% correct would actually sound even less like music.  Some notes would sound not together, while other notes would sound noticeably out of tune, tone quality would sound less characteristic of music, expression would sound more like a student ensemble and less professional, while a lack of balance would make the music sound weird.  A musical performance at this level would actually sound more like noise and less like music in some sporadic sections of the music.  This would yield a rating of EXCELLENT (II) and would compare to a raw score of 576 on the SOL test.

  • Anything below a rating of EXCELLENT is considered to be a failed performance.  The music would be so far off that it would start to not sound like music.  To compare to the SOL Test, a score of 575 or lower on our Concert Assessment would be a failed assessment.  However, the SOL test considers this score at the upper level of the PASS ADVANCE score.


Importance of the Concert Assessment Process

The Passage Middle School Music Department prides itself on the success of all performances.  All of our ensembles receive ratings of EXCELLENT or SUPERIOR year after year.  However, often our performances on stage in front of the judges is NOT our best.  You may ask yourself, "If we are aren't performing at our best in front of the judges, what can we do to perform better?"  The information below will answer that question!


The process to get to the final performance can be tedious and takes a lot of rehearsal and discipline.  Because of this, it is important to consider the following:

  • Rehearsals are at the core of the Concert Assessment Process.  This include in-class rehearsals and after-school rehearsals.  A strategy of combining both in-class and after-school rehearsals is needed to meet our goals.  When all students are present at a rehearsal, it allows the director to hear what is right and what is wrong, and allows them to emphasize what is right and fix what is wrong.

  • Attendance at Rehearsals is our number one drawback.  When as little as ONE STUDENT is missing from an in-class or after-school rehearsal, the rehearsal becomes ineffective.  This is because that one student isn't there to play correctly or incorrectly.  Making up a rehearsal does not fix that, and no, none of our middle school students are so good that they can miss a rehearsal.  Do we understand that, sometimes, things just come up, students get sick, doctor appointments are needed, and family events are always of the utmost importance.  That doesn't change the fact that their absence hurts the entire ensemble, regardless of the reason.

  • What can be done?  Simple...make sure all of our students are present at every rehearsal!  Yes...we know this isn't realistic, but it is needed.

  • What can parents and students do to help this issue?  That is also simple...

    • The after-school schedule for Concert Assessment will be sent out with plenty of advanced notice.  Place that schedule in a place in your house where EVERYONE can see it and know when NOT to schedule other events.

    • The simple practice of washing your hands consistently, not touching other students, and washing your hands when you touch your face will help you to be in-school and not sick.  Wash your hands more often, and you will be healthier!  The healthier you are, the less likely it is to miss rehearsals and/or performances!

    • Try to understand that important events are a part of everyone's lives.  Please make this process one of importance in your lives too!  When rehearsals are prioritized, students perform better!

    • When a pre-arranged appointment comes up, PLEASE TRY TO CHANGE IT!  If you cannot change it, then please notify your director at least ONE WEEK in advance of the absence.  If a last minute conflict comes up, and you cannot make it work to be present at rehearsal, please notify your director AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, and state that it is a last minute appointment.  ...but, please, please, please try to not let this happen!

    • Finally, the DRESS REHEARSAL and CONCERT ASSESSMENT PERFORMANCE are both vitally important to the success of the ensemble on-stage.  A student absence from the dress rehearsal will lower the score on-stage during the performance.  Please make these two parts of the Concert Assessment Performance the priority for your family during the process. 


Pre-Arranged Absences from Concert Assessment

Concert Assessment dates will be sent home as soon as they become available. Pre-arranged Absences from Concert Assessment may be approved at the Director’s discretion, but are most likely to not be approved. Please see the Director far in advance if you are going to be absent from the Concert Assessment performance.


Eligibility for Concert Assessment

According to the Virginia Band and Orchestra Directors’ Association policies, musicians are eligible to perform in Concert Assessment should they: 1) be a student at Passage Middle School, 2) are a regular participant in the ensemble, and 3) are a member of the ensemble in “good standing.”  Students are required to attend all after-school rehearsals in order to maintain good standing.


In order to be eligible to perform at Concert Assessment, students must be in attendance of at least 85% of all in-class and after-school rehearsals in preparation for the performance.  Therefore, students who miss more than 15% of in-class or after-school rehearsals may be removed from the Concert Assessment performance at the discretion of the director.  It is each student's responsbility to maintain an awareness of their attendance and ensure they do not miss more than 15% of rehearsals in preparation of Concert Assessment.


Blue Ribbon Award

The Blue Ribbon Award is earned by the school whose highest level of performing Band, Chorus, and Orchestra perform at the highest level (SUPERIOR RATING) on-stage and in sightreading.  This is the highest level of recognition given by the Virginia Music Educators Association, and is an achievement we attempt to earn each and every year.  To earn this achievement, the entire music department needs to be involved in the Concert Assessment process.  Even if you are not performing at Concert Assessment this year, please be sure to support your peers as they prepare for the most important performance of the year.  In addition, it is important to remember that the band, chorus, and orchestra need to support each other.  While we understand that these ensembles are competitive, we must also acknowledge that team work and support requires discipline from all student musicians.  With everyone's help and support, the Passage Middle School Music Department can earn the prestigious BLUE RIBBON AWARD!



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