USSBA Percussion Update from the Education Director

A Brief Interview with Dennis DeLucia


Feb. 13th marked the first event in the inaugural US Scholastic Band Association Indoor Season.
After a great deal of positive feedback from participating units, judges and spectators, we thought it would be a good time to touch base with Dennis DeLucia, Education Director for the USSBA Indoor Percussion program. 

Q: Dennis, there has been a lot of discussion about the new USSBA scoring system for percussion and the one that is currently the industry norm. How does the USSBA system differ? 

DD: The philosophy is very similar. It utilizes three judges: Performance, Effect and Visual and is based on positive, performer-friendly, educational and achievement-based criteria. All “GE” sheets have two sub-captions: Music Effect and Overall Effect. Our new approach is based on the way that that sheet is actually being judged: Ensemble Effectiveness and Overall Effect. I firmly believe that the quality of the ensemble’s performance clearly affects the potential for effect---so this sub-caption reflects that belief. 

Q: How so? 

DD: It accounts for the cohesiveness and musicality of the total ensemble, the control of tempo and rhythm in the hands and the feet, and the quality of sound produced by every instrument on the floor. The score rewards performers more than designers. “Overall Effect” evaluates entertainment value, coordination, flow, creativity, presence/confidence and communication. In other words, anything and everything that the group does! 

Q: That would explain the difference in the Effect sheet. How about the Performance sheet? 

DD: The sheets are similar in that they have two sub-captions - composition and excellence. The difference is the point distribution.  In the USSBA system, we have a total of 10 points for composition and 30 points for excellence which, again, allows for a greater emphasis on the performers rather than the designers. The “Excellence” sub-caption is based on the “Five T’s”: time, technique, touch, taste and tone. 

Q: And the Visual sheet? 

DD: Visual remains worth a maximum of 20 points: 10 for composition and 10 for excellence.  

Q: How have you addressed the concert and standstill categories? 

DD: Well, for one thing, we only use two judges: “Performance” and “Artistry.” The performance sheet is identical to the one used in the marching classes and “artistry” evaluates both the program as designed and the fulfillment of that design by the players themselves. 

Q: You judged a show yourself recently. How did that go? 

DD: Yes! I judged Effect at the North Penn show and, much to my delight and relief, the approach to evaluating this very subjective caption fit very well with the concepts and wording outlined on the sheet itself. I truly enjoyed the experience! 

Q:  There are still a few performance opportunities available for lines, including some special events? 

DD: Absolutely. Next weekend we have a great line-up of two shows in New Jersey and Connecticut, bringing some great lines together in some new areas. The following week we have the competition/clinic at Pequannock Township High School which will feature a drum circle for all participants headed up by Matt and Amy Savage.  It should be tremendous! 

Q:  Coming down the homestretch there are a few more events that finish out the season? 

DD: Of course, contests at Methacton High School (PA) and West Orange High School (NJ) round out the regular season, before the first-ever USSBA Indoor Championships.  We feel the Championships present a great opportunity for lines who participate in other circuits to extend their season by a week or two and cap off their season with a performance opportunity in a great setting at Sun National Bank Center in Trenton, N.J. I know the team in the office is working to make these inaugural Championships an event to remember!


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