Category Training School 2021 +s and -s!

As is true at the start of every year, members of the judging community gathered for a busy, long weekend of education.  But this year, we did it virtually.  Well, as you know or can imagine, virtual school has its good points and its bad points!


Bad points first:

  • The contest-free year and the virtual school meant that we were unable to offer opportunities that would allow candidates to advance to certified status – but our candidates are hanging in there.
  • There were no performances from “live” quartets as a component of furthering our scoring and evaluation skills.
  • Hugs were replaced by lots and lots of screen time – not a good trade-off.
  • We all had to cook our own meals…


Good points:

  • We slept comfortably in our own beds.
  • Every single judge, candidate and applicant was able to attend the school!
  • Many participants improved not only their judging skills, but also their Zoom skills….
  • We took advantage of virtual attendance possibilities in myriad ways:
    • Kelly Thomas, VP Convention and Contest, joined us to offer welcoming remarks at the opening session on Friday night.
    • All four BHS Category Specialists, as well as the Society Contest and Judging Chairman, attended that opening session.  The three scoring Category Specialists presented a class on the overlap among categories.
    • The COJs did self-paced exercises throughout the weekend with an open Zoom link.
    • The Performance Category welcomed some guest candidates and judges from other organizations, providing additional perspectives to classroom discussions.
    • The Singing Category attended virtual classes in vocal pedagogy, taught by far-away experts.
    • The Music Category, through screen-sharing, introduced to attendees a short song, We Are Thankful, written and arranged by the Category under the mentorship of Tom Gentry.  (This song has been accepted as a Harmony, Inc. common song.  The written music is now available on our website, along with learning tracks prepared by Anne Bureau.  Check it out!)
    • Linda Brehaut, International President, attended to give closing remarks, offering thanks and inspiration to the members of the judging community as we all work to support our organization in these challenging times.
  • And – very important – everyone arrived on time, and there was NO SNOW to shovel on departure day!


These wonderful education perks would not have happened in a “normal” year.  It was a most rewarding weekend.  But it is clear that every single member of the judging community is looking forward to the time when we can serve Harmony, Inc. in person again.  In the meantime, look for us on the HIVE, or drop us a note if you want us to stop by at your virtual rehearsal…or both!

Submitted by Kathy Greason
[email protected]