My job as a music adjudicator

I have just returned from the British and International Federation of Festivals Conference which was held in Bristol over the weekend. Music Festivals are mini amateur competitions held all around the UK  (there are many abroad, too), and they play an important role in the British music scene. Consisting of numerous instrumental, vocal and chamber music classes, a festival provides an excellent opportunity for budding young musicians to perform and receive constructive criticism from an experienced adjudicator. That’s my job. I was fortunate enough to be selected last October and have attended various ‘test’ days over the past year, where I have routinely had to demonstrate my ability and suitability  to be an adjudicator. Selection is quite a lengthy procedure and very few are recommended to join the panel of professional adjudicators.

The Federation Conference was attended by approximately 150 delegates from the Speech, Drama and Music areas of each festival; these mainly included festival organisers and adjudicators. During the three day event there were copious lectures and discussions relating to important issues ensuring each festival runs smoothly.

I particularly enjoyed the guest speaker, Andrew Curran, who is a Consultant Paediatric Neurologist and TV Presenter. His talk examined the effects of performances on the human condition. It was fascinating. We were treated to an indepth description of how the brain works and how this affects our music making and thought processes. Curran was humourous yet hard hitting in his approach and some of his conclusions were most thought provoking.

The conference provided a wonderful opportunity to chat to all those involved in the Federation. This is possibly the only chance festival organisers get to meet those who work at Federation House allowing them to ask pertinent questions regarding the successful coordination of their festival. It’s also an ideal occasion for adjudicators like myself to meet these organisers with a view to future bookings. I have since been booked for several festivals in 2014, in the distant future or so it seems, but festival adjudicators are often booked many years ahead. My first engagement at the moment will be next June at the Leamington Spa Festival where I will adjudicate two days of piano classes.

A music festival offers an excellent opportunity to play locally. If you are an instrumental or music teacher with students who would benefit from practising their pieces before their music exams, or perhaps you are an adult who would like performing experience, then do consider entering.


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.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Congrats on the Leamington booking!

    1. Thank you! Have been bookd for Harrogate and Isle of Wight too! 🙂

      1. Brilliant! Did Jane get booked for some too?

  2. Yes, Jane has already got some bookings too which is great 🙂

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