At its core, it's a ridiculous notion. We judge art. And give it scores.
It's that time of year again, well, honestly, it's always 'that time of year', but since it's band season, it's an 'all skate' and everybody has their hands in it to some degree.
We study the sheets, we design the shows, we spent ridiculous amounts of time instructing students how to run around a field while playing Shosty 5, but with a modern, 'capitalist' interpretation and inspired by the color mauve.
Then we put it out there for somebody to give a number to.
And then we do the fifty-seven things we're not supposed to do when you let somebody 'judge your art' and assign it a number.
Yes, numbers are also based on achievement, and many circuits have spent many years developing and analyzing the standards they use in order to formulate these numbers. But they're still numbers.
And it's still art.
I know what a three point shot is in basketball. It's tangible. A set number of inches from the rim gets you three points instead of two. What would have gotten you one more point today? Who knows?
You are not a genius director, designer or instructor because your kids got a 87 instead of an 83. You are also not a horrible director, designer or instructor because your kids got an 83 instead of an 87.
It's not a vast, sweeping judgement on your value to the marching arts or your kids any more than it is a vast, sweeping judgement of that idiot/genius up top who wrote down the number.
Our jobs as the 'adults in the room' isn't to make sure our kids take first at every contest they compete in, it's to serve up opportunities that they will remember favorably thirty years from now.
To better prepare them for the lives they'll face when band is over.
To show them how to succeed, not 'how to win'. One of those is useful and the other is simply how to play the game.
So, the next time you answer the question, "How did your kids do today?", take a quick pause and see what your first reaction was. Were our kids successful, or were they 'winners'?