By Robert Wallace
The Competing Pipers’ Association has responded to press comment on the low attendance figures at some Highland games this past season. The concern voiced by myself and others is that thanks to the solo piping grading system, some of the smaller games are losing out, with entries in single figures in some places. Pipers need good results at the graded events if they are to get to play at Oban and Inverness and they therefore spend their hard earned bawbees on attending these games rather than the smaller ones. My view is that if the CPA encouraged adjudicators at the smaller games to send in notice of outstanding performances – and that these would be taken into account the by the CPA Grading Committee – the smaller games might get a well deserved boost.
Donald MacLeod, CPA Secretary: ‘The most important point is to rebut any suggestion that results from smaller games cannot be added to a player’s track record, or are not taken into account during the grading process. This is simply not true. The Competing Pipers’ Association Grading Committee takes all results into account when assessing a player’s grade. Whilst a Gold Medal is obviously going to carry more weight than a minor prize elsewhere, they all count and our members do add them to their records each year.
‘We do thoroughly agree with your concerns about the future of the piping competitions at some games if numbers remain low at smaller events. There may be other factors, such as the increasing time commitment required by the top pipe bands, of which many of our members are members, impacting on their ability to compete in solo competition.
‘Perhaps there is also a reluctance on the part of some senior players to go out and risk being beaten by a ‘young Turk’, but this has always been the case. It would be sad if the up-and-coming players were not afforded this chance to pit themselves against the top players from time to time outside of the graded events. ‘However, this relies upon our younger players competing beyond the confines of graded events, and the established players putting their proverbial necks on the line, both of which we would encourage. Therefore, we continue to urge our members to get out and enjoy everything the games have to offer, which extends far beyond the graded competitions.
‘To repeat what we’ve said to members, the smaller games offer the chance to visit new places, play tunes in nice surroundings, meet new people across the spectrum of piping, possibly take a scalp of a higher graded player, perhaps get your name on a trophy with a ‘who’s who’ of piping and dare I say make a few pounds to cover petrol money from time to time? This is the lifeblood of solo piping and we urge our members to get out around as many games as they can. We hope this is a temporary cyclical lull and numbers do improve in due course with the support of CPA members playing a part in this.’
It is good to see the CPA is onside with this one. However, with respect, can I repeat that it is not only the results from the smaller games that need to be communicated to the Grading Committee but the level of performance achieved. I respectfully suggest that they send an email address to all solo judges asking them to submit, as appropriate, the names of pipers who played impressive tunes, piobaireachd and light music regardless of the entry, venue or opposition.