Judging Criteria in 21st Century

Kiyomi Niibori (a member of NE & Ladies' Quartet, Master of Arts in Music)

We were so glad and honored receiving warm New Year’s greetings from many peoples in the world to carry on January issue of this magazine, and we would like to say thank you very much.
Now, information of International Guitar Festivals and Contests (conventions) has been sent to us from many countries and we were surprised to receive information of Guitar Orchestra Contest, not for Guitar Ensemble, from unbelievable country and actually felt the spread of Guitar Orchestra in the world now. What kind of musical instruments are used, how organized, are actually interesting. Receiving this kind of information from the world will be appreciated. Of course we know the existence of guitar orchestra using N-Method guitars of each sound range (Sopranino Guitars, Soprano Guitars, Alt Guitars, Bass Guitars, Contrabass Guitars, and Cembalo Guitars of each sound range) in other countries, and the different organization will possibly existing. Method of judge in contest will also be interesting.
Here, the writing by Dr. Hiroki Niibori on judging criteria for “All Japan Guitar Contest” sponsored by IGOA (International Guitar Orchestra Association) & NKG (Nippon Kyoiku/educational Guitar League), Dr. Hiroki Niibori works as the president and chief judge, will be introduced below. This writing was carried on December, 2010 issue of this magazine (specially featured for contest), in “Viewpoint”, in Japanese language.

Excerpted from “Viewpoint 91” written by Dr. Niibori
Judging Criteria in 21st Century

The sense of value for culture and means of expression have been widely changed with entering into “age of heart”, the 21st century, from “age of material”, the 20th century. Then, it will be quite natural to change the evaluation criteria. For judging contest, the criteria foreseeing future, making sure of universal value, will be required.
Ways of studying music and means of expression have been also changed.
School lessons in 1964, I was giving lessons at Kunitachi College of Music, were done, looking back from now, with unnecessarily big quantity and severe for basic practice, and also with unnecessarily detailed subjects forcing to use left brain very hard (explanations with theory). Lectures with words occupied considerable part.
And, as the way of thinking in that time, students were prohibited to appear on cheap (?) stage while they were students.
Thus, learning fundamentals thoroughly in college of music, memorizing scores correctly, playing each sound precisely, performing in dignified manner, many teachers (judges), graduated from college of music, giving good marks for above were seen.
Now (2010), colleges of music, left center of cities, are beginning to return to the central area of cities. That is entirely because of the times entered worldwide of “information-oriented”, “on-the-spot learning with experience” and “sensing and expressing with right brain”. Having ardent experience together with audience in big hall is difficult in suburban area with small population.
Thinking about stage manner and direction, assuming to appear on world’s stage for musicians (performers), it will be too late to start stage activities after graduating college of music, now. Sometimes, it will be too late even for middle school students.
Now, Niibori Music Academy is obtaining good results with positively promoting specialty course (entering vocational college) for primary school boys and girls.
Structures of class rooms and school buildings have been changed extensively. For instance, Niibori Music Academy Fujisawa Campus having more than 3 different purposed halls, live performance and concert are being held day and night.
Students are experiencing all aspects for concert and learning the way of expression on the stage. Overseas’ public performances are also frequently carried out. Thus, Niibori Music Academy prepares many kinds of subjects, not found in curriculums of usual college of music, and facilities for them are steadily being enriched now. Of course, traditional art and history are carefully studied, but things to be possibly done only in urban area are increasing. “Make right brain sense” the “composer’s thought” with utilizing DVD (or live stage) at the first stage of learning, and learn “musical breathing” necessary for them. Experiencing stage manner (especially smile), clothing, walking figure, body fixing, talk, and premises for them, PA, lighting, directing, further before them, planning, design, editing, video & sound recording, camera work for sometimes are made students to do. Keeping up with audience is also made to learn. Simultaneously with good performance, so many items, can not bear comparison with usual college of music, are made to experience. Then, all of above items are fulfilled or not will be checked (judged) at the audition in the school.
As a conclusion, the first item to be checked as the judging criteria is that the “composer’s thought = expression of the style” is fully expressed or not
The performer should begin to sense (percept sensually with right brain) the composer’s intension to describe what he thought, not to begin with analyzing musical score (study theoretically with left brain). Asking thoroughgoing questions when the composer is alive, checking DVD first when you have, visiting the point composer worked, thus study with various experience should have priority. When you surely grasped the heart of the piece of music, you should try to express it just like an actor. Suitable action (breathing) and clothing for the piece should be taken into consideration. Of course your effort to take care of make up, hair style, and shoes to pass the severe check by judges. Now the judging criteria expanded than before even to walking figure and way of smiling.
Looking at musical score even on the stage, considerable points will be deducted at present judgment. Whenever looking at musical score, eye contact with other performer, conductor and audience will be interrupted and spoil the atmosphere.
Eye contact with conductor is especially important for ensemble and existence of conductor with eye contact will be big factor for judgment. Judgment without considering conducting will be the most unreasonable. That is because of every thing will follow the conductor’s intention at ensemble.
Finally, judgment from now on:
The most important point of judgment for guitar ensemble (orchestra) from now on will be “organization of instruments to surely express the style of the music”.
Judges should have full of knowledge adding to general knowledge of music for merit and demerit of each instrument from sopranino guitar to double stringed cembalo guitar to properly evaluate.
When you evaluate ensemble of some school, the upper ranked criteria to give advice to them will be “selection for instruments”, “scale” and “performers’ positioning (organization)” as leading factors.
Judge should know even for the fact that rhythm of prime guitar part for Wiener waltz will clearly expressed by adding 1 soprano guitar into how many numbers of prime guitar.
I strongly hope all of you learn and understand highly advanced guitar ensemble.

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