World Pipe Band Championships

c2762a95fea3d6316324ad4f600a83dfBy Robert Wallace

As was announced in the Pipe Band Magazine on October 1 and on the RSPBA website, the Worlds Grade 1 format is to be the same in 2015 as it was in 2014.  That is, a qualifier for all bands on the Friday, and a twelve band final on the Saturday.

I can see why the authorities have opted for this  – it worked pretty well this summer. My concern is for the bands that travel great distance and then find by the close of play on the Friday that their Worlds is over. Am I being too sympathetic? I don’t know, but something tells me that it would be possible to cram all performances into the one day if we reverted to the system used a few years back whereby bands played their MSR in one arena and then moved smartly to the Medley arena – tuning time in between – and performed for a second time.

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Toronto Police….civvies on Saturday for them after failing to qualify for the 2014 G1 final

Being editor of the Pipe Band magazine gives me insight into the work done by the RSPBA and its officials at these major championships. We sometimes forget that they are all unpaid volunteers. Their unsung efforts often go unnoticed. They sweat and worry over their duties for the love of the music and the pipe band movement. We should all be very grateful to them.

[easyrotator]erc_14_1414056032[/easyrotator]When it comes to the Worlds they have something like 300 band performances to process in the one day. Given the amount of paperwork that involves, isn’t it amazing that we hardly ever have a slip up? Take our judges too. At the Worlds they are on duty from early in the morning until late afternoon. Many, shall we say, are not in the first flush of youth. They do a remarkable job concentrating all day, often in inclement conditions.

Those overseas readers who are used to balmy summer conditions should spare a thought for those Scottish judges armed with the plastic hooded clipboard standing in a  gale judging 30+ Grade 4 bands, and open to widespread attack for the slightest slip of the pen or inconsistency in their placings. They too do it for the love of the art. Believe me, I know what they are happy to accept in expenses.

So when it comes to considering the Worlds we have to weigh the work of these hard pressed ladies and gentlemen in the balance. By reducing the number of G1 performances on the Saturday, we ease the pressure.

And that is pressure that is only going to grow. I cannot see the Worlds diminishing as the years progress. The worldwide streaming, so brilliantly done by the BBC, has made the event a must watch show around the world. Now that they have sampled the visuals, tasted the atmosphere, witnessed the glory, every aspiring band piper and drummer will surely want to make the pilgrimage to Glasgow Green at least once in their pipe band lives. Those I speak to tell me that, despite the expense, every moment walking the green sward on the big day is worth it. For the rest of their lives they can say ‘I’ve been there; I’ve done that’, successful or not.

Maybe in the short term the two ring approach to Grade 1 would be a solution. But I cannot see anything other than future expansion on the Friday. Yes it is very tough on those who line up that day only to be told to don the civvies on the Saturday, but in thinking along these lines the RSPBA probably has an eye on the decades ahead – so well done to them for that. [easyrotator]erc_75_1413484305[/easyrotator]

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