percussion ensemble rules and guidelines

Percussion Ensemble rules and Guidelines

Percussion Ensemble Rules and Guidelines


Percussion Ensemble: 1= Varsity and 2 = Non-Varsity


6A Groups Representing High Schools of 2,190+ Students in Grades 9-12

5A Groups Representing High Schools of 1,150 – 2,189 Students in Grades 9-12

4A Groups Representing High Schools of 505 – 1,149 Students in Grades 9-12

3A Groups Representing High Schools of 225 – 504 Students in Grades 9-12

2A Groups Representing High Schools of 105 – 224 Students in Grades 9-12

A   Groups Representing High Schools of up to 104 and below Students in Grades 9-12

CCC Groups Representing Middle Schools (up to 9th grade) of 650 + Students, not including 6th Grade enrollment

CC Groups Representing Middle Schools (up to 9th grade) of 250 – 649 Students, not including 6th Grade enrollment

C Groups Representing Middle Schools (up to 9th grade) of up to 249 Students, not including 6th Grade enrollment


S** Special classifications not included in the above descriptions.

Example: All-District ensembles, home school and composite ensembles, colleges, and jr. colleges are in the “S” Class unless they meet the above descriptions. 'S” Class groups are not eligible to win “Overall Outstanding.”

* According to enrollment at the beginning of the school year.

** Ensembles in the “S” classification are eligible for a rating and class award. They are not eligible for an Overall Outstanding award.



All category or classification changes must be made 21 days prior to the first day of the festival event. Ensembles making changes after this date may only be eligible for comments and rating awards.



Each performing ensemble will be allowed FORTY (40) MINUTES on stage for performance and clinic. If you perform for 20 minutes, that will allow 20 minutes for a clinic. Your setup will be timed. For every minute over 5 minutes, the stage monitor will deduct in one-minute increments from the forty-minute allotted performance/clinic window.    


The Director should furnish Two (2) sets of original scores, with the measures numbered on each piece to be performed. (we will not mark on the scores) DUPLICATION OF PUBLISHED SCORES IS A FEDERAL VIOLATION AND IS NOT ACCEPTABLE WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION FROM THE COPYRIGHT HOLDER! If original scores are not provided, ensembles may still perform, but may not be adjudicated. A participation trophy will be awarded, and the ensemble will not be considered for class awards.

When attending a Director’s Choice Festival, we prefer you only perform published music that you have purchased. If you are performing an arrangement of a copyrighted song, you will need to prove you have permission for the arrangement. If proof is not available at the site, Director’s Choice and our recording contractors cannot produce an archival recording.

Recordings provided by Director’s Choice are for archival purposes only. A mechanical or sync license must be obtained if you intend to distribute it. Director’s Choice and its recording contractors are not responsible if you choose to distribute these recordings without a mechanical or sync license.


Director’s Choice will provide music stands, acoustic piano, chimes, 2 xylophones, (4) 5 octave marimbas, (2) 4.5 octave marimbas, (2) 4.3 octave marimbas. (4) vibraphones, concert bells, five timpani, and a concert bass drum. Students must assume responsibility for bringing all sticks, mallets, and any equipment not listed above.

Director’s Choice will provide an electric receptacle.  Any group needing an expanded sound system (multiple microphones, monitors, speakers, electric pianos, synthesizers, etc.) must supply their own unit.

Typically, the equipment list is available at least 30 days prior to the event date through the group's MDC account. If you do not see the equipment list by this time or have questions about it, please contact your travel consultant.



Ensembles may choose from three possible adjudication options:

Competitive* (Ratings and Rankings)

Noncompetitive (Ratings Only, No Rankings)

Comments Only** (Judges Comments, No Rating, No Rankings)

* If duplicate personnel is used for like ensembles, only one of the ensembles may compete.

** Ensembles that elect the Comments Only option will receive a trophy for musical achievement.



Ratings are noncompetitive. All ensembles will be judged against a national standard. The Director’s Choice rating system, based on the quality of music performance, is:




Two adjudicators will assign a rating to each performing ensemble. Each ensemble that has elected to receive a rating will be awarded a trophy reflecting their rating.


  1. Raw scores will be converted to ordinals to determine each adjudicator’s rank
  2. The sum of the ordinals will then be calculated to determine rank. The ensemble with the lowest sum of ordinals will be rewarded with the highest rank.
  3. In the event of a tie in rank, musicianship score rank will be used to break the tie.
  4. In the event of a tie unbreakable using the musicianship ranking, “judge's preference” will be used to break the tie.

Rubric and Adjudicator Sheet

(Judge 1 rank, Judge 2 rank, and Musicianship rank)


Judge 1 rank

Judge 2 rank

Musicianship rank



Ensemble A






Ensemble B






Ensemble B is the winner of Judge’s Preference


At the conclusion of the stage performance, each ensemble will use the remaining time in the 40-minute time slot to have a clinic with one of the adjudicators. The clinician rotation is decided on a first-come basis.  Clinic time can be used at the director's discretion.


Class Awards: In each varsity category, an Outstanding In Class and Runner-Up In Class trophy will be awarded from ensembles that received an overall Superior rating. Non-varsity ensembles that receive an overall Superior rating will be eligible to receive an Outstanding In-Class or Runner-Up In Class trophy only if two or more ensembles are competing in their category. In rare cases, adjudicators may choose to award an Outstanding In Class trophy to a non-varsity group in a category where there is only one performing ensemble. A group must earn a Superior rating to be considered for a class award. 'S” Classification ensembles are eligible to receive an Outstanding In Class Award.

Overall Outstanding Awards: A high school and junior high school/middle school ensemble from each contest site may be selected as the Overall Outstanding Percussion. Only ensembles that are named Outstanding In Class will be eligible to receive these awards. 'S” classification ensembles are not eligible to receive an Overall Outstanding award.

Overall Outstanding MS/JHS and HS winners will have the option of performing an exhibition at the conclusion of the awards ceremony.

The award ceremony will be at the conclusion of the dinner break. We hope that you and your ensemble will be able to stay to participate.  

If an ensemble is awarded a Class Award or an Overall Outstanding Award, arrangements must be made to pick up or ship trophies. The Site Coordinator will have information regarding the time and location to acquire any additional trophies.

Trophy pick up or shipment is the responsibility of the ensemble director to coordinate with the Director's Choice event staff. Ensembles not attending the Awards Ceremony can pick up their trophies as instructed by the Site Coordinator or pay to have trophies shipped. Each trophy has a $30 shipping fee. We can include this in your package price. If trophies are awarded and not acquired at the event, Director’s Choice Travel Consultant will invoice for any trophy shipping fees.