For his first year of producing Sing Song by himself, Nick Tatum updated the scoring process for the second year in a row.
“This year, based off of things I wanted to do last year and wanted to do for a long time, we changed things,” said Tatum, director of Student Productions.
For the first time in Sing Song history, sets and costumes will have their own category. Tatum said that for a while, acts were only judged on costumes, then it changed to appearance.
“We’ve never had them separate, which I think is exciting,” Tatum said.
Last year, both were worth 25 percent together in the appearance category. This year, they’re worth 30 percent total.
In addition to the updated categories, Tatum said judges will be ranking entertainment every night for the sake of trying to be fair.
“I think those big clubs who have a billion alumni always get lots of cheers and always win in entertainment,” Tatum said. “But on other nights, their applause is just as big as everyone else’s. Judging it every night makes it way more fair to get a read on the audience.”
The process of finding judges is the same – pulling from non-ACU professional connections, including choir directors in Dallas, as well as notable alumni from five, 10 and 15 years ago.
To avoid another year of ties, Tatum said they will add a force ranking sheet.
“There were so many ties last year and it was because we couldn’t do a force rank, so this is the solution to it,” Tatum said. “Even if two groups get the same amount of points, we still only want to announce one group as first, second and third, because ties stink.”
Tatum said this year, each division’s acts are back-to-back to make it easier on the judges to compare alike acts. Each judge will receive a binder for each division and keep it through the last act of the respective division, something they’ve not been allowed to do in the past.
“We redid every sheet, we redid the questions and scoring and freshened everything up,” Tatum said. “After they see everyone, they can adjust scores based off of the other acts. Before, there would be a two-hour gap between the first men’s group and the last men’s group.
After they see each act, they fill in the force rank sheet – what they would, in their opinion, rank each group.
“If there’s ever a tie, we’ll announce the group who was ranked higher on average. If there was a perfect tie on the force rank, fine, but keeping all of their sheets for the same division will make a huge difference,” Tatum said.
In the past, judges were required to write notes on each act, but this year they are not. Tatum said this is to give them more time to judge fairly.
Compared to previous years, Tatum said judges are receiving a more thorough training, including example videos.
To be more transparent, Tatum also said he plans to release the scores to the Optimist for publication, one category each week after the production is completed.
“I think it’s important for us to be transparent,” Tatum said. “It’s not going to change anything. The groups that won will still win. If they’re close, people need to know.”