We take pride in providing fair, balanced, and high-quality feedback and constructive criticism to our competitors.
Our official 2021 judging rubric for ICCA, ICHSA, and The Open is now available here:
We’ve gone through a pretty exhaustive process to test this rubric; a lot of variations were made but in the end we came back to a rubric very similar to that used for our live competitions, with accommodations made for the transition from stage to pre-recorded, mixed, and edited content.
Our judging system will function the same way it always has, with scored vocal and visual elements, bonus points awarded to subjective rank, and highest and lowest overall score dropped (on a panel of five judges).
We hope you’ll agree that this rubric is fair and enables groups of all styles, with video editing and audio mixes of all kinds, to score well.
We will offer special awards for:
Outstanding Vocal Percussion
Outstanding Audio (this includes audio recording and mix)
Outstanding Video (this includes cinematography and editing)
However, depending on judge availability, we may not be able to offer special awards at the quarterfinal level. We’ll have that more firmly for you in a few weeks’ time.
- There will be three to five judges at quarterfinals, and five judges at semifinals and finals.
- Each of judge has the responsibility to critique the performances in the following categories: Vocal Performance, Visual Performance, and Subjective Rank. The judges will determine these scores individually and without deliberating among themselves.
- All scores will be tabulated by a Varsity Vocals staff member and approved tabulators. When there are five judges, the highest and lowest total scores will be discarded. First, second, and third place winners will be recognized according to their final scores.
- Groups who exceed the 4-minute time limit may be penalized by one place, at the discretion of headquarters.
- Judges will deliberate in selecting recipients of special awards in the following categories: Outstanding Soloist, Outstanding Arrangement, Outstanding Vocal Percussion, and Outstanding Audio (including audio recording and mix) and Outstanding Video (including cinematography and editing). These awards are not required and may be given at the judges’ discretion. It is likely we will be unable to offer these awards at the quarterfinal level.
- Outstanding Arrangement can be awarded to an arranger only if they are a current member of the group. If arrangement for a song was a group collaboration, the group is eligible for this award.
Ethics and Conflicts of Interest
Our adjudicators are vocal music professionals who have been certified by Varsity Vocals to evaluate our performers. As part of this process, they are required to maintain the highest ethical standards and practices in all judging activities. Judges who do not uphold these standards may be suspended or have their certification revoked.
A school or university affiliation is not adequate to preclude a certified adjudicator from serving on a panel. Other potential conflicts of interest will be handled at the discretion of headquarters.
In the event that a Varsity Vocals staff member is present during this deliberation, he or she may not cast a vote or influence the judges in any way. When necessary, an external moderator will take the place of the staff member.
Judges deserve to be treated with respect from our competitors and their friends, families, and fans. Penalties for abusive behavior toward judges, including from directors, students, and parents, may include disqualification from future Varsity Vocals competitions.
Judge For Us
If you are a music educator, performer, or an experienced a cappella practitioner, get in the judge’s seat!