Judge not lest thee be a Spring Sing judge — or something like that. A few men and women are chosen each year by a Spring Sing committee to moderate and critique club performances. Take a look at some past Spring Sing judges to see who was behind the concluding scorecards.
Musician and former Spring Sing host, Terrance Talley, was invited to judge the choreography of 2015’s “Famous for Fifteen” Spring Sing show. Talley is the creator of East Coast Inspirational Singers, an entertainment ensemble that performs internationally.
Talley said all judges receive initial instructions and directions in preparation for Spring Sing weekend before arriving on campus. Throughout the week, an orientation meal is planned to cultivate camaraderie between judges and provide a packet that contains further rules and regulations.
Unlike portrayals of judges on competitive TV shows, Talley said Spring Sing judges rotate seating arrangements in order to accurately judge each club’s show.
“We’re within the audience,” Talley said. “We try to be as discrete and careful as we can.”
Jenna Thomas, a Harding alumna and drama teacher at Central Arkansas Christian School in Little Rock, recalled the seat rearrangements when she returned to judge Spring Sing.
“(Since) the judges would have different seats for each performance, I do remember feeling like an ‘undercover agent’ when attending the performances,” Thomas said. “The thing that gave you away as a judge was we had these little flashlights, so we could record information on our rubrics during the performance.”
Judges review the first three performances, including Thursday and Friday nights and the Saturday matinée show. The scoring process takes place in a selected room where judges finalize their rubrics from each performance.
“The final part of the process was pretty grueling,” Thomas said. “I remember that the judges spent hours writing comments and scoring everything. We also wrote extensive comments — the goal is for this to be an educational experience. There should be no mystery involved as to why each score was earned.”
Rebecca Boaz, assistant professor of apparel merchandising and two-time Spring Sing judge, reflected on the changes from when she participated in the shows of ‘87 and ‘89 as a student to judging as an adult in ‘13 and ‘16.
“A big change has been all of the digital stuff like the screens in the background and having a video going at the same time as you’re singing and dancing,” Boaz said. “Spring Sing has gotten more sophisticated.”
Boaz praised the evolution of choreography and track recording as influential developments in the way performances are judged today.
“Back in the ‘80s, very few kids who grew up primarily in the Church of Christ knew how to dance,” Boaz said. “Now everyone knows how to dance, and the choreography is so much better. Also, the addition of track recording leveled the playing field.”
Talley said he believes that the dynamic elements of Spring Sing encourage each generation to join the high-spirited fellowship.
“It’s a recipe that always worked,” Talley said. “Jack Ryan, who just passed away, always made sure that things were done in uniform and to give every club the best possible chance to be judged.”