Judging in LABBS

LABBS Judging programme

The Judging programme is steered by the Education& Judging Committee (E&J). We train our own judges through biannual training seminars, practice (shadow) judging at contests and peer mentoring and support.

There are three scoring categories, Music, Performance and Singing. The fourth category is Contest Administration who prepare and run all our contests.

Our judging system is the same as the Barbershop Harmony Society, Harmony Inc. and BABS. We sometimes have guest judges from these organisations and our judges are often invited to serve on their panels too.

If you are interested in training to join the LABBS judging programme, please get in touch with the Category Director(s) of the category that most interests you.

Education and support

LABBS runs a rolling education programme lead by our judges (fulfilling the 'E' in E&J), our wider teaching faculty and guest educators. Many of our Music, Performance and Singing judges are available for coaching by request. for choruses and quartets.

Music category judges also advise contestants whether a song arrangement is suitable for contest. Similarly, the Performance category judges are available to advise on issues of taste and staging queries.

Why are there 3 scoring categories?

Each category is responsible for adjudicating a performance through a different lens:


The Music Judge evaluates the song and arrangement, as performed. They adjudicate the musical elements in the performance: melody, harmony, range and tessitura, tempo and rhythm and meter, construction and form, and embellishments. They judge how well the musical elements of the performance establish a theme, and the degree to which the performance demonstrates an artistic sensitivity to that theme. They adjudicate the degree to which the musical elements of the song and arrangement display the hallmarks of the barbershop style.


The Performance Judge evaluates how effectively a performer brings the song to life - that is, the believability of the theme in its musical and visual setting. They respond to both the vocal and visual aspects of the performance, but principally evaluates the interaction of those aspects as they work together to create the image of the song. The Performance judge adjudicates the quality and appropriateness of the overall effect, evaluating everything about the performance that contributes to emotional impact upon the audience.


The Singing Judge evaluates the degree to which the performer achieves artistic singing in the barbershop style. This is accomplished through precise intonation, a high degree of vocal skill and appropriate vocal expression, and a high level of unity and consistency within the ensemble. Mastering these elements creates a fullness, and expansion of sound, and when combined with expressive vocal skills will convey a feeling of genuine emotion to support the message of the song.