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Journal of Band Research

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The purpose of this study was to compare festival ratings among multiple instrumental ensemble types (bands and orchestras), grade levels (middle school and high school), and classifications (1-6). Data included individual and final ratings from 144 judges (108 concert- performance, 36 sight-reading) at 36 contest sites sponsored by the Virginia Band and Orchestra Directors Association (VBODA) in 2010. Research questions examined the distribution, reliability, and group differences of ratings by ensemble type (band vs. orchestra), age level (middle school vs. high school), and classification (1-6). The average final rating was 1.58 (SD = .66) and 91.5% (n = 901) of ensembles (N= 985) earned either a I/Superior or II/Excellent out of five possible ratings. Data indicated a high level of interrater reliability regardless of contest site, ensemble type, age level, or classification. Although final ratings differed significantly by age (middle school bands vs. high school bands), ensemble type (middle school bands vs. middle school orchestras), and classification (lower vs. higher), these results were probably due to performance quality rather than adjudicator bias, since interrater reliability remained consistent regardless of these variables. Findings from this study suggested a number of opportunities for increasing participation and revising contest procedures in festivals sponsored by the VBODA and other organizations.


This article was originally published in Journal of Band Research 49, no. 1 (2013): 1,