Blind Adjudication – Short Snort (Organ) #5

Shepparton Advertiser – 5th September & 7th September 1934

The Shepparton Country Women’s Association held a two day competition for music and elocution. On the second day (Tuesday 4th September, 1934) the Mouth Organ Bands Section was presented with the Shepparton Ambulance Harmonica Band triumphant on 82 points – two clear of the Shepparton Harmonica Band. The event was adjudicated by composer and poet, Louis Lavatar, who did not operate out of a tent!

Tent judging was apparently a thing for brass and pipe bands (predominantly outdoors I would think), but I don’t believe it was a common practice for mouth organ bands. The adjudicator would sit in a tent with flaps closed where he could hear, but not see. It was, you see, all about the music not the presentation.

J Herbert Hughes from Burwood Victoria had an answer to perceived judging bias in solo competitions. Writing to the editor of The Herald on January 12th, 1930 he stated, “The only way to discover Australia’s best mouth-organist is to have a competition with each player to be numbered and walk on to a darkened stage.”


Courtesy of Lost Shepparton Facebook Page

In this photo of the 1934 Shepparton Ambulance Harmonica Band (nice uniforms – just saying) it features and identifies in the four corners; J H Freeman (Conductor), C Mather (Secretary), G Cant (President) and A De’ Pagny (Treasurer). Fourth from left, middle row is Jimmy (Arthur) Hillet.

🐇🐇🐇 🤏 & 🤛 – HNM, Riff Raffers

Please check home page for copyright details.

Postscript: Just in case you had trouble reading the first letter.

To the Editor. The Advertiser, Sir.—Having visited the musical competitions last night, I noticed that the Judge was sitting in the open hall whilst judging the musical items. Now I understand, with my twenty years’ experience, that his proper place was in a tent. The proof of this may be judged in or by his decision in the Mouth Organ Band’s performance. The Judge was not there to judge or to award points for uniforms, or any other matter excepting music, that is the rendering of each band’s particular piece of music. I heard both bands play and I have no doubt as to which one was the best, but to my surprise, when listening to the Judge’s remarks, that No. 1 played the best music, but he gave the decision to No. 2, and his reason’s were that No. 2 were in uniform and that No. 1 had string instruments included. Could he not see also that No. 2 had the same number of string instruments included? Any band is entitled to three string instruments, therefore I take it that No. 2 band was awarded first simply because they wore uniform, because if the No. 1 played the best music this is the only conclusion. I suppose there were others besides myself who are of the same opinion, and it seems a pity that the Judge was not, in the first place, placed in a tent, secondly he awarded. No. 1 the prize simply because they wore uniforms. I say there was no comparison between the two selections the bands played. Leaving the matter to the public to decide. — Yours etc.,


7 thoughts on “Blind Adjudication – Short Snort (Organ) #5

  1. Judges are influenced by the visuals. We had Brian James (The Damned) as a judge in a battle of the bands we entered back in the 1970s. We weren’t the best in the final, but won. He said the fact we continued until the end after being totally covered in spit (punk hey) impressed the judges. Great write up here about ethics re: music skill over stage presence. Makes you think about the whole music business ‘think tanks’ and how they prepare to achieve success stories. Cheers Shep.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tanks for reply and your insight Gray. Personally I reckon Music is intrinsic and not for competitions. Judged only by the punters to listen/buy or not. As for the business itself I’ve recently witnessed first hand some of its nepotism. Ch S

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Never thought about that angle re: competitions. Putting yourself against others does seem weird now you mention intrinsic nature. We entered because the bands in Coventry all did at that one time it was held. It wasn’t serious until it suddenly became serious. Strange how the need to be seen as good enough overtakes. The prize was a day in Horizon recording studio. Where the ska bands were all recording. And yes. Some underhand shenanigans that looked for success in us. To the point of replacing loyal people in our musical journey because they wanted their own promotional teams. Good to get your views and insights Shep. If you yourself have relocated….Hope you are now enjoying your new ocean ambience. All the best.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Anyone seen a judges score sheet from this era? Great article especially like the bitchyness and drama. At least the judge didn’t have a mouth organ shoved down his throat. Can’t wait for the next episode. A murder perhaps ?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have come across a bit of angst from that time. One mouth organ champion wasn’t happy with a newspaper report that had credited an individual as an Australian champion. He contradicted this and also felt his rating as a highly rated player was a wee bit below par. More to come on this. Stay tuned. I haven’t found any murders…yet! There is of course the ‘Crackajack Cold Case’ –….Thanks for commenting Phil.


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