PLEASE NOTE: The CSJA Executive Board has voted that new members may be accepted following application and completing the training process. Acceptance of new prospective members will be done on a case-by-case bases after review of application materials by the Caption Heads. Thank you for your interest in CSJA!

The CSJA Training Process

Thank you for your interest in the Central States Judges Association. Please allow the following paragraphs to offer a few pieces of information about the CSJA and our training. We train in one caption at a time with CSJA, to concentrate on the material for each caption individually. Please read the following steps to membership, as they are the essential process to become a CSJA adjudicator.

Caption training for both captions begins early February and runs to the end of July. All training is done via Webcast training sessions. Each session is one hour long and meets every other week.    

  • A $200 non-refundable training fee must be paid to CSJA before your first training session. 
  • Attendance at a series of online classroom training sessions to learn CSJA approach, numbers management, tape commentary, critiques, and more. 
  • Completion of assigned exercises to fulfill the process of adjudication and principle testing, which may include trial judging at a marching/pageantry arts event as prescribed by your respective caption head. 
  • Oral examinations with your caption head and other established, outstanding members of our association to show your proficiency and knowledge. 
  • An official vote of the membership accepting you into membership with our association and official oath administered and swearing in ceremony at a major meeting of the association. 

All prospective judges are required to attend. If an applicant is going to miss a meeting, the Caption Head must be notified prior to set up a make-up session. An applicant with two unexcused missed sessions will be dropped from the program.

There are ten PowerPoint presentations and ten homework assignments.  Homework assignments range from “book” learning questions, tape commentary, number management and essay requirements.

Lesson 1: Introduction to the Training Program – What is to be expected and what CSJA expects from the applicant. A short history of CSJA and the markets we serve.

Lesson 2: Our Job – Rank/Rate/Education/Accountability; How bias effects your value in judging; Introduction to the Criteria Reference System.

Lesson 3: The Score Process – Impression/Analysis/Comparison/Re-Analysis; Judging over Time

Lesson 4: Tolerance / Sampling (sheet and unit) / Profiling / Uniformity / Focus (near and far); Design Elements

Lesson 5: Composition – Form / Space / Line / Movement / Variety / Contrast / Layered Responsibilities; Staging / Instrumentation; Flaws / Risk Involvement / Error Recognition / Solutions

Lesson 6: Communication – Teacher / Counselor / Critic; Accountability – to commentary / to score / to unit / to other judges / to self 

Lesson 7: Numbers Management

Lesson 8: Numbers Management Continued; Communication – Unit / Judge / Possible Problems

Lesson 9: Tools we use; The Critique

Lesson 10: The Review; Schedule for Oral Exams

Under no circumstances can the training fee be waived. The process MAY be accelerated for those candidates who have taken Levels One and Two of the Judges Academy training. How much of the CSJA coursework may be skipped will be determined by the Caption Head on a case-by-case basis based on previous education, experience and judging. The criteria for approval of your candidacy and for approval as an adjudicator are clear, and all of the criteria must be completed. Should you be selected for membership, our association has a “Red Book” governing the association, which outlines the rules for conduct, rules for adjudication, and other rules of our association. Once a prospective member, you are required to judge bound by those rules. The content of the “Red Book” will also be a part of your training and your education. Upon acceptance as a member, you will be required to purchase and wear official CSJA judging apparel to all events that you adjudicate. Uniform parts are available from our CSJA shop at Land’s End.

Please consider the following as well: All applicants for membership in the Central States Judges Association are expected to have had significant experiences in the marching arts. These experiences include (but are not limited to) marching in high school, college, or drum corps units, teaching work with significant experiences in preparation and instruction of units, and/or design and creative input on groups to include (but not limited to) design, creation, verifiable input in the design process, or some level of work in revision of design during experiences with units in the pageantry arts. Not all of these characteristics are required, but verifiable experiences with a record of quality work are expected. Previous adjudication experience is also of value, but is not a limiting factor in your potential membership and candidacy. It is important to have this level of experience, as our units ask us to send expert judges with significant experiences and understanding of the marching arts. Those units expect the best from CSJA, and without those levels of exposure and experience, your potential input to groups is limited.

Additionally, the CSJA Board has determined that any applicant for membership in CSJA is required to have the recommendation of two active, current members of the association, or one current member of CSJA and the applicant’s Judges Academy mentor. A recent Judges Academy graduate with no prior contact with CSJA may be considered without these references after the Caption Head consults with the JA mentor. In that case, the mentor and the Caption Head would serve as the two references.

The Central States Judges Association also requires all members to be 21 years of age to accept assignments from the association. You may begin your training before your 21st birthday, but will not be allowed to work as an adjudicator until you reach your 21st birthday. 

We hope this answers some of your questions regarding the training process. Being a member of the CSJA is an exciting, rewarding, and educational endeavor. We strive to maintain our place as the best-trained judging organization, with the most consistent judges, and the most current knowledge of trends and movements in the pageantry arts genre. It is important to develop and maintain the knowledge base of our adjudicators. It is our hope that your interest continues, and that you too will find our association worth your effort and your investment.

Go to the online form to start the process: New Member Application