Presented by the Georgia Music Educators Association, and hosted by Lassiter High School Band, the District 12 Large Group Performance Evaluation is the annual assessment of student achievement by each school music ensemble. Over the course of this three day event, almost 20 high school bands perform over 50 concerts. In addition to the bands and their directors, Lassiter Band also hosts approximately 13 announcers, clinicians, adjudicators, judges, and evaluators.
Directors choose music literature that will demonstrate the various fundamental performance standards and concepts in the curriculum. The degree of literature difficulty range from Grade Level 1 for a novice performer, to Grade Level VI for the advanced college-level performer. Most Cobb County middle school music groups perform Level II & III literature that matches the expectation for the middle school curriculum. At the high schools, the intermediate groups in Cobb County perform grade IV or V, which is above the national average expectation for high school ensembles. The advanced groups play Level VI literature, a college level performance expectation.
Each year, nationally recognized experts in the field assess Cobb County music groups on every aspect of student and director performance. This evaluation is similar to the standardized tests or end of course exams given in other school courses. Students demonstrate their musical understanding and skill development through applied performance and sight-reading, both individually and as an ensemble. This evaluation is done by comparison to a national standard of performance achievement. The sight-reading requirement is the most authentic assessment of each group’s level of achievement.
Three experts evaluate fundamental elements on prepared literature and one expert evaluates fundamental elements on literature read for the first time. Immediate feedback is provided through tape commentary, written evaluation, and performance rating. Grades of (I) Superior, (II) Excellent, (III) Average, (IV) Poor, and (V) Failure are utilized to communicate a national standard of performance with more detailed letter grades for each fundamental performance indicator. Clinicians also provide “live” immediate feedback to students and directors in a seminar setting following prepared performance.
Individual section evaluators offer commentary on the strategies and pedagogy needed for improvement on individual and sectional performance. This commentary is specific and more detailed to individuals and families of instruments. Additionally, a conducting expert provides video commentary for the director concerning musical communication and interpretation to the student musicians. A professional audio recording of the performance serves as an archive and resource for further study.
This thorough performance evaluation serves to provide the opportunity for program improvement, instructional guidance, and accountability for learning. Directors and students archive and use the information for future reference and program adjustment.