Santa Fe Voice Teacher Shares Insights on Adjudication Training

Karen Hall

In January we welcomed over 100 distinguished teachers from across the country to our Adjudicator Certification Program Training Summit, an intensive series of lectures, assessment demonstrations, and mentorship sessions. Among the participants was Karen Hall (pictured), a lecturer at the University of Miami and a private voice teacher in Santa Fe. In her first of two posts, she offers insights on her training and the value of a national adjudication standard.

Why did you want to become a Music Development Program adjudicator?

I wanted to become an adjudicator for several reasons. First, when I heard about the program at the National Association of Teachers of Singing Conference in Orlando, I knew the U.S. needed a program like this in the biggest of ways. Over the years, several of my colleagues received their training in the Royal Conservatory system, but I did not really understand what is was or what it did. I did know those colleagues, without exception, were solidly trained.  Since the U.S. program was based on the Royal Conservatory model, I immediately knew it would be of the highest quality. 

Second, I am a classically trained soprano but conducted my doctoral research on music theater vocal pedagogy—in other words, I teach and sing.  I was thrilled and relieved the program covered performance and pedagogy. I knew my background and experience in both areas would be big assets.

Third, throughout my university teaching career, I have maintained a private studio.  I My private students would now have a way to monitor their progress, and I was sure I was teaching and training them in all areas of music education.

Describe the training you underwent.

My training to date has been conducted in three stages:

  • Last summer I visited an assessment center in Kelowna, British Columbia, and observed adjudicator Susan Ambrose while she conducted voice assessments.
  • In advance of the adjudicator training summit, I studied online learning modules from the Music Development Program.
  • In January I attended the summit, which was detailed and hands-on. I observed a voice assessment with adjudicator Robert Loewen, practiced filling out assessment forms, and conducted some of the aural skills assessments. The next two days consisted of small classes with other voice teachers, led by lead adjudicators. We viewed video assessments, gave marks, wrote remarks, and had our work critiqued. 

How was your training beneficial?

I have learned how to give detailed, honest feedback in a positive way. In fact, I am considering using this type of assessment in all my teaching.  I believe evaluating singing in smaller, specific segments improves the overall result. As I continue to reflect on the assessment protocols, I find myself believing that giving grades actually has real meaning in the Music Development Program.

What are the benefits of a national standard of adjudication?

The national standard of adjudication greatly increases the chances of an equitable assessment for all singers. As importantly, it trains the adjudicator to a high standard.

How will the training inform your approach to adjudication?

Like the training teaches, I will be honest, positive, and thorough in my feedback.  I will strive to remember what it feels like to be “in the student’s shoes.”

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