Do Brass Band Adjudicators Always Say What They Mean?

Brass band adjudicators have possibly the most thankless job in the world and I understand why they tread the line when giving their pre-results speech.  But!…wouldn’t it be wonderful if they said what they really thought?

“Band number one is on stage… Can the adjudicator please indicate that he is ready with a fully charged hearing aid?’


Tension mounts as the contest results are announced…

“And in third place with 190 points is the band that played number…6 “ (gasps of astonishment) “In second place with 191points is the band the played number….3”  (more gasps and a few laughing). “And the winning band with 198 points receives the challenge cup, a cheque for eighteen pounds and a blood orange is the band that played number…2” …(silence apart from whispered curses and the rustling of programmes to find out who the hell band 2 were).

“Kirby Muxloe Trawler Fitters Temperance?”

“Did you hear them?”

“No…went for a brew”

“I heard they were shocking. Split everything. Soloists had a mare. Bloody train crash!”

“198 points!”

“Says in the program they withdrew?”

“Are they an actual top section band?”

“Kirby Muxloe…is that in Wales? Are they even allowed to enter?”

“Where did Grimdyke come? They were brilliant.”

“Last but one.” 

“Blinking stitch up!”

Sound familiar?  Rewind to pre-results…There’s often no hint of reason in the adjudicator’s speech or they give a massive hint at the qualities of bands in the frame and still have you dumbfounded. But then again do all adjudicators say what they mean or do they give a politically corrected and ‘no offense’ filtered account? Wouldn’t it be refreshing if there was also an interpreter next to the adjudicator?  Not to translate language but to translate the real meaning of what’s being said?

“First I would like to thank the area committee for asking me to adjudicate at this prestigious venue”

“Pathetic fee. No comfort break. Bunch of miseries. Shed of a place.”

I would like to say how much I have enjoyed listening to all the bands in this section.

“I hated every moment in that stinking tent. The bucket hadn’t been emptied from the last section. The table was on a slope. The chair felt like I have been perched on an iron bake-stone for the last four hours”

“Every performance was so well delivered it made my job very difficult.”

 “They were all rubbish and made my job almost impossible.”

“I was intrigued to hear the different interpretations of the composer’s music.”

“It was amazing how many totally talentless and clueless musical directors you have in this section.”

“A perfect test for the bands and one of my all-time favourite test pieces.”

“Far too hard for any band – virtually impossible.  Idiotic choice.  I hated the piece back in the day when I had to play it and I hate it even more now.”

“The conductors of the bands in the prizes were the ones that really found the music in the score”

“The top three bands were marginally less rubbish than the rest.”

“Some bands did not fare so well today as they did not observe all the dynamics”

“Nearly every band blew seven shades out of the test piece.  Dynamic Contrast? You’re having a Giraffe!”

“Some fine percussion playing today, and the best percussion section were worthy winners”

I forgot there was a percussion section prize today.  Some bands had percussion some didn’t, and I couldn’t remember which.  After checking my notes, I only found one reference to percussion: band 4 …’Percussion section has the rhythmical skills of a paralytic woodpecker’. I gave them the prize.

“There was some very good solo playing today and the winning soloist was special”

Every soloist was abysmal. The winning soloist sounded as if they were blowing a rat through a rissole. However, the winning soloist is in my lodge.”

“The winning band was in front by a clear margin, really capturing the mood and musicality of the piece.”

“The conductor of the winning band is my Grand Master.”

Whether or not you agree with the adjudicator’s decisions it would be good to hear the truth, warts and all.

One last gripe…When are we going to have an audibility test for the person in the box? Let’s be fair they are sat pontificating over our performances on the stage with their lugholes.  If it was a band CD recording the equipment would be expected to be in tip-top condition!   Dare I say it –   Compulsory annual hearing tests for adjudicators?  Now there’s a thought!

Appeared in the satirical article ‘And Another Thing’ written and illustrated by Rob Nesbitt (Nezzy) in Brass Band World Magazine June 2018

You can now get Brass Band World Magazine in digital format for your Desktop Tablet and phone. For more details and subscription rates check out Brass Band World Magazine on digital subscription