Director of Adjudicators

Michael Robertson – Director of Adjudicators

(716) 238-3672


Adjudicator Feedback Form

Becoming a NYSSMA Adjudicator

Each year, NYSSMA sanctioned evaluation festivals hear almost 100,000 student performances from across New York State. Musicians from primary grades through high school prepare an approved solo from the NYSSMA manual, prepare specific scales and are asked to sight read music at these evaluation. Adjudicators write constructive comments and score students in specific areas of their performance. Many county music organizations use the scores of these evaluations in determining the students accepted into their area all-state music festivals. In addition, more than 5,000 sophomore and juniors perform at these festivals for a chance to be chosen for the highly selective Conference All-State ensembles at which NYSSMA brings in nationally recognized conductors, culminating in an exciting concert in the Eastman Theater at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester. As you can see, there is tremendous personal satisfaction in being able to provide encouragement and guidance for these young musicians as an adjudicator.

NYSSMA is always interested in teachers who would like to play an important role in these festivals by becoming NYSSMA Adjudicators. Through NYSSMA festival orientation sites, expert coordinators instruct, observe and train adjudicators in all applied music areas. Those experienced adjudicators may also receive All-State adjudication orientation and second area orientation. Once the Assignor of Adjudicators receives a festival date availability form from the judge, NYSSMA Adjudicators are then assigned to judge at festivals within a driving distance from their homes. Festivals usually run from Friday afternoon until 9:00 p.m. and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., although mid-week festivals are sometimes scheduled.  Judges are paid at an hourly rate, and also reimbursed for their travel, meals and hotel room. Adjudicators are eligible for a year-end bonus, depending on how many festivals they adjudicate in the calendar year.

Adjudication areas:

  1. Brass, Woodwind, Percussion, Strings, Piano, Voice
  2. All-State Vocal Jazz, All-State Brass, All-State Woodwind, All-State Percussion, All-State Strings, All-State Voice, All-State Jazz

Requirements for regular orientation in your primary area (instrument/voice):

  1. A bachelors degree in music
  2. One year of full-time teaching experience (prior to year of application)
  3. Membership in NAfME/NYSSMA

Requirements for second area orientation:

  1. All requirements above, plus having training in your primary area
  2. Two festival seasons experience
  3. Adjudicating at a minimum of 4 evaluation festivals in your primary area

Requirements for All-State orientation:

  1. Presently a NYSSMA Adjudicator
  2. Four festival seasons experience
  3. Adjudicating at a minimum of 8 evaluation festivals in your primary area
  4. No unresolved adjudicator evaluations

Application for Orientation

In the September/October/November/December/January-February School Music News issues, an announcement of orientation festival sites and dates  will be found. You will also find the application on this web site. Orientation sites are usually held in March and April in different parts of the state. Applications are completed and sent to the Director of Adjudicators. Once you are approved and attend the seminar, you will be notified if you have successfully completed the orientation and will send in your available dates for judging.


  1. Regular orientation runs from Friday from 6 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.
  2. Second area orientation is on Friday from 6:00 p.m. until 9:30 p.m.
  3. All-State orientation is on Friday from 3:15 p.m. until 6:15 p.m.

Becoming a NYSSMA Major Organization Adjudicator

It is NYSSMA’s goal to orient knowledgeable and articulate adjudicators who can provide clear and perceptive recorded and written evaluations of bands, orchestras and choirs entering Major Organization Evaluation Festivals.


  1. A minimum of eight (8) years of successful teaching/conducting experience in the desired area.
  2. Membership in NAfME/NYSSMA
  3. Presently a NYSSMA Adjudicator

Note: Previous major organization adjudication experience i.e., commercial festivals or college-university conducting could waive the solo requirement.


Notices for Major Organization seminars are published in the fall and winter issues of the SMN. The application is completed and sent to the Director of Adjudicators for consideration.


Major Organization adjudicator orientation takes place at several of the spring solo training sites. The training is a six to eight hour workshop with skilled adjudicators who use recorded performances of ensembles for instructional use. Once you have taken the orientation and have completed the course, you will be assigned to fieldwork as an adjudicator at a Major Organization Festival.


NYSSMA Adjudicators are considered ACTIVE if they return an Adjudicator Availability Form to the Assignor of Adjudicators at the beginning of a festival season, and/or if they accept an assignment to adjudicate.

NYSSMA Adjudicators are considered INACTIVE if they do not return an Adjudicator Availability Form to the Assignor of Adjudicators at the beginning of a festival season, and/or if they request the Assignor of Adjudicators to designate them as INACTIVE.

NYSSMA Adjudicators who are INACTIVE for 1-5 years may become ACTIVE by requesting this status from the Assignor of Adjudicators.  NYSSMA Adjudicators who are INACTIVE for 6-10 years MUST complete an Adjudicator Refresher Seminar in order to gain ACTIVE status.  NYSSMA Adjudicators who are INACTIVE for over 10 years must repeat the entire Adjudicator Orientation Seminar in order to gain ACTIVE status.