US Scholastic Band Association to reduce panels in New Jersey

Part of an attempt to lower costs in all ways possible

After a few presentations, and a review of opinion in both directions, the US Scholastic Band Association has decided that symbolism is sometimes critical to existence and $30,000 is not a number to be taken lightly.  

For the Fall Season, all school hosted events in New Jersey will have a panel of three judges: 

  • One Overall Effect Adjudicator
  • One Visual Performance Adjudicator
  • One Music Performance Adjudicator

This will allow for all Silver Events, those without a percussion and guard judge, to be held to a cost of only $2,410 if paid in full by July 1. In addition, the extra band fee, for show with more than seven participating bands, will be reduced by $25 to $275 for this year only. Those hosts who have already paid their fees in advance will receive an adjusted discount in line with the new fee. 

Gold Events, those offering a percussion and guard judge, will also receive the new discounted fee.  That said, the USSBA discourages all New Jersey bands from having such judges in the spirit of cooperation, but if hosts decide they want to make the investment, we will ask that the event have at least 10 bands in attendance. The total package for a Gold Event will be $500 less with the additional band adjustment, once again for 2010 only. 

The move to a three-judge panel in New Jersey is the third in a series of moves to assist the New Jersey bands, and schools elsewhere, through a difficult time period.  The first change was a significant 25 percent reduction in the ticket requirement for the USSBA Northern States Championships to be held in Allentown in October and November.  Additionally, the USSBA offered an Annual Membership discount of 50 percent when referring a fellow band to become a member in 2010, allowing for unlimited participation throughout the fall at school-hosted events. 

According to George Hopkins, CEO of Youth Education in the Arts, parent organization of the USSBA, “We debated this for some time. The responses from the hosts were 60 percent in favor and there were indeed some spirited points of view. And as a director of an ensemble, I want the best adjudication I can receive for my program so I struggled with a decision myself.” 

Hopkins continued, “But, at the end of the day, we are entering a unique time, and what is MOST important is that the activity of marching music survives and prospers. Perhaps we can look at this fall as an experiment to see what is possible. Perhaps, we can find an answer that will assist all programs in doing more with less. And not to be forgotten, although the savings goes to 60 host bands, and not the entire roster of bands, the $30,000 of savings is considerable. If the USSBA was giving $30,000 to the New Jersey Bands in a ceremony, we would be a front page item.” 

Sean King, the Director of the USSBA added, “This is not the easiest option. For sure, to stay at four judges made the most sense. We need to change judges assignments, and software and all else. But, the adjudication system stays in place, our service is the same of not better for the bands of the USSBA, and I am thrilled to think we are doing something to assist the cause.  And yes, we know some bands will disagree but, at Regionals, State Championships, and Northern States, there will be expanded judge panels. In fact, we are adding an effect judge at the largest shows in an attempt to stabilize any wide swings that a single rogue judge might inflict on a particular event.” 

In addition, again as a test, all New Jersey hosts will have the opportunity to have an assistant coordinator attend an 8-hour certification program with the USSBA. If approved, the school will be able to use their own volunteer coordinator, saving the host another $100-$150. Plus, if the school can maintain this person, he or she can be the coordinator for years to come. 

This is a one-year response to the New Jersey budget crisis and the effect such is having on music programs. The USSBA has strongly suggested that schools look to alternatives other than trophies, and here in the USSBA office, we are looking at all prospects that can assist bands. We have offered a fund raising program, we are looking at a re-launch of MARCH FOR MUSIC, and there will be free education clinics and webinars launched for directors and staff as soon as this summer. 

The USSBA believes in the value of music and marching music. Teamwork, discipline, perseverance, a commitment to excellence, and sportsmanship are but a few of what a student learns in the world of music performance. And at this time, we believe an adjustment is needed in response to the actions of the economic world and yes, as a way of seeing what other possibilities there are in the world. All other states served by the USSBA will have the same programs in place as has been the past, but we believe it is important to respond to the crisis in New Jersey. This might be a small response, it may be not enough, or some may think it is too much. But, for the USSBA, we see this as an action that will NOT impact the students and COULD open the doors to alternatives and the recreation of adjudication systems in the future. 

Stay close to and watch for new and innovative ways we hope to help every program in the USSBA grow and serve as many student-members as possible.  As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact Sean King at at your convenience.


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