PP Editor’s Blog 19/9/14

I don’t know what stage the election for President of the EUSPBA is at, but one of the candidates, Patrick Regan, has circulated this:
1. The EUSPBA is losing members at an alarming rate. I will empower a team to survey all former members from the last 10 years to find out WHY they left, and what we can do as an association to bring them back.
2. We are suffering a “brain drain” among our top competitors, many of whom feel neglected or ignored by the Association. I will encourage the creation of a series of premier events for professional competitors, adjudicated by senior judges, modeled after proven events such as the Metro Cup and Winter Storm.
3. We are not creating NEW members, especially among younger players. I will create initiatives to recruit new pipers and drummers, such as the wildly successful Scottish program: “Fair Play For Pipes.”
4. The Constitution and Bylaws no longer serve the needs of the Association. I will form a constitutional revision committee to bring the Constitution and bylaws in line with the needs of a 21st Century corporation, to strengthen the role of the branches, and to give a voice back the membership.
5. The current venues for competition are fragile and diminishing. I will reach out to Games Committees to strengthen the position of piping competitions in existing events, and work to establish creative new venues for competition, such as Renfairs, and small competitions sponsored by individual pipe bands or small pipe band consortiums.
6. Our founding members are aging, and many have already “crossed the finish line.” With their passing, we are losing an important part of our history. But everyone has a story to tell. I will oversee the development of an historical archive for the EUSPBA, which will include a voluntary video submission from ANY member, telling the story of his or her journey as a piper or drummer. Pipe bands will be encouraged to provide a submission also.
7. Underpinning all of these points, we must once again become an association of members who view ourselves not only as pipers and drummers, not only as competitors, but as students and teachers. Every one of the points listed above will be addressed from an educational perspective. Only to the extent that we learn from our actions can we hope to perpetuate success. There must be room at our table for beginners, adult learners, and premier competitors, both soloists and bands, and we MUST find out what it will take to get everybody to the table.
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Judges for the prestigious George Sheriff Amateur competition to be held in Ontario, Canada, in November are Patricia Henderson, Iain MacDonald (Sask.) and Andrew Berthoff. The competition is run by Bob Worrall and takes place at St Paul’s Presbyterian Church, Hamilton, Ontario, on Nov 15. I remember judging the Sheriff a few years ago and very enjoyable it was too with a high standard of play. The venue was the Officer’s Mess of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders of Canada in Hamilton and we were surrounded by memorabilia from that proud regiment’s history. Perfect setting for piping.
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Back on this side of the Atlantic,  now that the Referendum is out of the way we can all concentrate on our piping a bit more.  I hope the enhanced tax raising powers that we have now been promised mean more money for Creative Scotland and thus a better deal for piping – and that they in turn have a more equable distribution of their funds. Those who haven’t seen Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop’s response to my July Editorial in the Piping Times might like to know that she confirmed that the National Piping Centre was the main outlet for their piping funding and that the National Youth pipe Band of Scotland was supported because they were very proud of its work and the ‘National’ assignation meant it had to be supported by the Scottish Government.
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Piper Sean Detmers: ‘Rob, you’re too young to retire. What is behind it? I have a substantial commitment to the College, in no small part because of your inspiration. What has changed?’
Thanks for that Sean; will all come out one day I suppose. I see from Facebook that former director Barry Donaldson has issued a statement: ‘To all piping friends, particularly those who may be considering a College of Piping Outreach School, I have been made aware of the possibility of incorrect information being promulgated to the effect that I will continue to engage in College schools. Unfortunately recent well publicised events re Robert Wallace and his retirement also led to the resignation of two Directors, myself being one. I feel that it is only fair to advise that I have decided not to engage in any further College schools. I will of course continue to avail myself to any of my former students indeed anyone who needs assistance with piping, just get in touch and all the best with your piping in future. Barry.’
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The Scottish Pipers’ Association are holding their SPA Juvenile competition tomorrow at the College of Piping; hope we hear some good playing; will have the results and pix ASAP. Also tomorrow is the Springbank Invitational in Campbeltown. Again, results here ASAP.
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My instructional recordings of light music and piobaireachd will now be available from this website. I have already put a few tunes on and these include those piobaireachd set for the senior competitions next year. I’ll add others over time.

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Back to the Referendum…the Guardian newspaper is famous for its typos but surely this caption error is beyond the pale:
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In closing please keep the news, info and results coming. The worldwide readership we have achieved already has exceeded expectations with hundreds tuning in every day. The email address is pipingpress@gmail.com or text 07957818672.