Music Festival Adjudicator

Music festivals hold an important place in our musical heritage. I consider them to be of paramount importance for all those wanting to develop performing skills or attain more performance practice. I have already blogged about music festivals and you can read my post here:  Music Festivals – A Platform for your Child.

A music festival adjudicator’s job is to judge amateur music competitions. I was selected to be an adjudicator in October 2011 after an intensive induction day up in Macclesfield at Federation House, the headquarters of the Federation of Music Festivals. The selection process was quite rigorous; it’s rather like examining for the ABRSM (The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music). The Federation select around 20% of all those who apply and invite them to attend an induction day.

During that day, I was asked to watch videos of various festival performers marking each performance afterwards. This involved writing comment sheets and selecting class or category winners. Prospective adjudicators also have to give adjudications too, demonstrating their suitability to address an audience giving constructive and encouraging comments.

Once selected I then had to attend two ‘Observations’. I observed two three hour sessions at different music festivals and then answered many questions on the various strategies employed by the adjudicators. I am a generalist adjudicator, meaning I can judge many different instruments, so I attended wind and brass classes. The final test was a ‘Shadow’ adjudication which involved attending a further three hour session (this time a piano class), writing copious comment sheets whilst sitting with the adjudicator and discussing marks, winners and performances. It was all very interesting and I learnt a great deal.

So I am delighted to now be officially announced as an adjudicator for the British and International Federation of Music Festivals. It’s been quite a journey but no doubt worth it and I am really looking forward to starting this new chapter.


Melanie Spanswick has written and published a wide range of courses, anthologies, examination syllabuses, and text books, including Play it again: PIANO (published by Schott Music). This best-selling graded, progressive piano course contains a large selection of repertoire featuring a huge array of styles and genres, with copious practice tips and suggestions for every piece.

For more information, please visit the publications page, here.

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