A Look Back at the Pipe Band Season

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Greater Glasgow Police Pipe Band who just missed out on the prizes at the Worlds. They can take consolation from the excellent concert they put on during Worlds Week. If they can maintain the sound they had in 2014 into 2015, then they should do much better next year

Just about a month ago the pipe band season came to a close with the Worlds at Glasgow Green. I think this is too early a finish to the pipe band year and I hear a lot of comments about one major coming on top of another and bands having difficulty recovering lost ground after a bad run. Others say that it is great having the momentum build up every four weeks -and the overseas bands always like the idea of being able to cram as many contests into as short a space of time as possible. I don’t suppose there will ever be an ideal solution that suits everyone. I will say that this past year has been a thoroughly enjoyable one with the five majors all running like clockwork and the standard of pipe band musicianship as high as it has ever been. And I don’t just mean in Grade 1. The playing is improving all the time down through the grades. Look at the Juvenile. Here we have bands that could easily compete in Grade 2 or Grade 3a with success. Down into Novice and Grade 4, I think the MAP tunes scheme, introduced a few years ago now, is beginning to bear fruit with these bands able to handle the delights of the dot and tailed notes required in some of the smaller, classic 2/4 tunes. This has to improve standards of the individual performer and this, in turn, the overall standard of the bands these pipers play in.

Returning to the scheduling of the majors, could we not move the Worlds back a week or so to perhaps the third week in August? Moving it to the last weekend of the year would be very damaging to Cowal and no one would want to see the old gathering injured in this way. But having it on the third week would be an option. Cowal could then hold a ‘West of Scotland Championship’ and I’d wager that a lot of bands would stay on after the Worlds to take part in such a ‘mini-major’.

Finally to the vexed question of prizes for drummers and tenor/bass sections. I will say that I am in favour of endeavour being rewarded and recognised as much as possible. The more drumming prizes the better. But, and here is an important qualifier, only if such prizes are awarded through the prism of the contribution to the band as a unit. We must not have drums corps playing for the drumming prize, contradictory as that may seem. They must do their brilliant work, and much of it is brilliant, with the band’s fortunes uppermost in their thoughts. If the drumming prize comes along whilst doing so – fantastic. Responsibility does, of course, fall on the adjudicator here. He or she must factor this into their decision making. Technical brilliance, crisp tone, musicality is no use in a drum corps if it doesn’t benefit the band as a whole.

Anyway, with these thoughts to mull over here are some snapshots from the Worlds. Incidentally Pipe Band Magazine will have full coverage of the big day with pictures of all the main prizewinners in the issue out on October 1. It will be available as a free download from rspba.org and this website from that date.

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Pipe Major Stuart Liddell receives the G1 runner-up trophy from Glasgow Lord Provost Sadie Docherty. Read more about Stuart and his band in the October Pipe Band Magazine
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Possibly FM’s youngest supporter
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FMM leave the field led by D/M Samantha Gordon. Samantha was runner up in the Adult D/Ms.
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The outstanding Boghall & Bathgate Pipe Band in the Grade 1 arena led by P/M Ross Walker. They had a very successful Worlds finishing 4th in the Medley and 5th in the MSR
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On the up….Shotts P/M Ryan Canning with the Worlds fifth place trophy
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Drumming adjudicator Gordon Parkes on duty at Glasgow Green in the Grade 1 arena. Notice how the specs co-ordinate with the kilt…fashion polis very happy!
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‘What the heck was that…’ might be the thought of respected adjudicator Nat Russell. Nat travelled from Australia for duty at the Worlds
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Bagad Cap Caval under P/M Herve Lefloc’h. The first Breton band to make a Grade 1 final I believe

2 thoughts on “A Look Back at the Pipe Band Season”

  1. Rab, nice article on looking back on the 2014 pipe band season. You make some good observations for consideration.
    However, I think the attempt at humour under adjudicator Jim Semple’s photograph is unnecessary. This infers that an adjudicator is not taking judging at the world pipe band championships or any other competition seriously and is derogatory to say the least. I’m sure you had no intention of offending and this was merely meant to be humorous.

    1. Sorry Jacqui if you are offended. Thought it was quite funny. Jim is a respected adjudicator and a World Championship winning piper and no one should take my remarks as anything other than friendly banter.

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