PP Editor’s Blog: Coeur d’Alene/ SPA Pro/ CPA Survey/ Inveraray

spa logoTom Johnstone, President of the Scottish Pipers’ Association, has announced the judges for their forthcoming professional contest on April 9. They are P/M Ian McLellan, John Wilson, Willie Morrison and Andrew Wright.

Download an entry form here.


Andrew is pictured in the historic photograph above taken in the mid-1970s at the Couer d’Alene Summer School in Idaho, USA. The left to right is: Organiser Lt. Col. John McEwing, US Air Force (retired) and instructors P/M RG  Hardie, John Wilson, Toronto, and Andrew Wright. Thanks to Andrew and Craig   Hazelbaker, Montana, USA, for the photograph.

Bob Hardie taught at the school for several years in the 70s and left a lasting impression among students who attended the school then. Andrew went on to teach at Cd’A for four decades making a considerable impression on the standard of piobaireachd playing in the Pacific north-west, a standard which persists to this day.


CPA logoStill with the solo world, the Competing Pipers’ Association have launched a major survey of their members to try to assess the reasons for the decline in attendance at many Highland games. Secretary Donald MacLeod has written to each member of the Association saying: ‘One of the worrying trends over the last few years has been the drop off in the number of people playing around the games, particularly at the smaller events. 

‘We wanted to gauge some of the reasons for this trend and have prepared a survey. The survey deals with the 2015 season and is trying to establish whether there are any obvious factors in people not attending certain games. We intend to feed this information back to games organisers to hopefully improve matters.



‘If you have a spare half hour or so, we would be grateful if you could fill in the survey. It is entirely up to you whether you want to fill it in or not, but the more responses received the more meaningful the results.’

The survey then has a questionnaire which it describes as ‘a place for CPA members to provide anonymous feedback on all UK piping competitions in the Guide to the Games. Feedback will be compiled by the CPA Committee and passed on to games and competition organisers in a diplomatic fashion. Please try to be constructive with your feedback and include positives as well as negatives.’

There then follows an extensive lists of contest with a form for each, for example:

A hearty well done to the Association for this initiative. A lot of work has gone in to preparing it and if it helps redress the slide in attendance at the smaller games then they deserve all credit.

I reiterate my thoughts however. Graded contests are doing the damage. Pipers, eager to get meaningful points on the board, flock to these contest at the expense of the smaller ones.  There is simply not enough time or money to do them all and the all-important track record is God.

If the Association’s Grading Committee sought input about each piper’s playing from a broader information base and did not rely so much on the graded contests for their criteria on who gets to play at Oban and Inverness, attendances at the wee games would improve.

A good performance is a good performance no matter where it is heard. The CPA should place more emphasis on this and be more positive, more pro-active about it. Canvas the judges for their thoughts and marry this feedback to track record. Not only would it lead to fairer gradings but it would get more pipers on the boards at the smaller events where they often have a much more enjoyable day out than in the cut-throat atmosphere of the graded competitions.

On that very point I see that Inveraray entries are now open and they have capped the numbers in the B&C at 25. I rest my case.


Registrations Open!