There are different types of criticism:
- Negative (personal to one or more people)- criticism that has no real point except to tear a person down which only leads to defensiveness. Examples:
- “That was terrible.”
- “You really did a bad job on that.”
2. Constructive (professional)- the ability to point out that a performance (in our case) may have had faults, but here is how to improve on those issues. Examples:
- “Your entrance was not timed very well, I suggest that you get the audience’s attention and then proceed. You will probably find that the ceremony begins much more smoothly.”
- “Overall, the performance was poor due to the members of the team seeming to not know what to do next. Reviewing your training and sticking to that training is what is needed.”
I hope that it is obvious that we all need constructive criticism. Everyone needs improvement in certain (all) areas of our lives. When one steps into the world of pageantry arts (marching band, indoor music and visual performance ensembles, honor guard, drill team, etc.), many then seek professional criticism for ways to improve.
What if someone doesn’t want to hear criticism?
- Performer: Then don’t ask for it. But why would you not want to receive feedback on a performance, no matter what kind it is? Yes, the type of performance is irrelevant: funeral, exhibition drill, colors presentations, all are subject to a critique to help you improve– and that is the bottom line.
- Critic: Don’t give it when not asked. Sometimes this can be difficult, but it is best to keep quiet until asked.
When asked to provide criticism, where should one begin?
- Knowledge and training based on a standard. Just because one is very involved in a certain area does not necessarily mean that one is qualified to judge or provide a through critique.
- Don’t just go from memory.
Whether adjudicating an honor guard or military drill team performance/competition the only published standards available today are:
- The World Drill Association Adjudication Manual and Rule Book for all military drill performances and, additionally,
- The Honor Guard Manual for honor guard performances.
The WDA Manual is based on decades of adjudication standards for indoor (marching band) color guard performances. After I was trained and certified through Winter Guard International (WGI)/Color Guard Nederland as a General Effect judge, I spent several years judging and seeking more training to hone my skills. Eventually, with WGI’s blessing, I ‘filtered’ the WGI Manual through my military experience and created the WDA Manual. Both books are based on professional visual adjudication standards, many educators over the years have had input on the WGI Manual and I was able to take that and bring it to the military drill world.
The Honor Guard Manual is based on the American military’s joint service honor guard standards where applicable with Air Force Honor Guard standards as the default (e.g. firing party, six-man flag fold) and my decades of honor guard experience.
- Pike pole and fire axe manuals: these two manuals were created to mimic, as closely as possible, the manual of arms for the colors rifle. Technically, it is my personal preference along with work accomplished by McAllen, TX firefighter Mark Zamora, that went into each manual, but each are still based on the military standard.
Personal Opinion is out
Can one provide a completely dispassionate, objective critique? No. But with continued education and training as a judge one can provide the most professional criticism as possible to help others achieve their goals.
constructive criticism, professional criticism, negative criticism, drill team, honor guard, color guard