I have to say I agree with drummer Andy Donaldson who messaged last week: ‘Just a wee note regarding Thornton. Our wee band (Cardenden) and Barney’s band (Methil, P/M Robert Barnes) were the only two bands that bothered to turn up. Every other band that was entered pulled out for no discernible reason. I think they should be ashamed!!!
‘We had members on holidays etc. but still managed to field a band worth playing. After consultation with the organisers we ended up just doing a wee bit of gala band service for the punters and we each got a share of what would’ve been the prize money.
‘This type of thing is happening all too regular now and something must be done about the local bands patronising their local contests. Good games and venues like. Strathmiglo, Cupar, Forfar, Cowdenbeath and Thornton are dying through lack of attendance. An absolute disgrace!!!!
‘And games like North Berwick and the like are actually suffering with bands pulling out because they are unwilling to pit their wits and talents against the large school bands (semi-professional, well tutored and drilled) playing up a grade. We MUST address this and retain our culture…. ‘Save our local Highland games’!!!’
Well said Andy and well done to your band and Methil for getting out there. I have said it many times that this is a top down situation. If the big bands get out to the smaller events the lower grades follow.
This not only benefits the competition, but piping, drumming and pipe bands in general. How many youngsters get the idea of joining a band because they’s seen one on parade. More than you would give credit for.
It may be too late to do anything for this summer but pipe majors and band secretaries at the top end have a real responsibility here. It should not be all about only ‘playing the Majors’. Bands like Shotts, Scottish Power, Fife Police, Inveraray, Glasgow Police, Boghall have a duty to get out and play at the minor contests. And this goes for the bands in Grade 2 too.
Even if there are drops in numbers because of holidays etc, these bands nowadays are so huge that they could easily put out a band with 14 pipers and six drummers – a sufficient size for the smaller contests.
I know from correspondence that RSPBA branches struggle sometimes to put on their local competitions. Yet all it takes is for word to go round that one of the big bands such as those named above are attending and the whole event takes on a new feeling.
So come on: let’s listen to what Andy says and support the minors. It can be a very enjoyable day out, less pressure and an opportunity to blood the youngsters.
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The above picture shows a band playing at a minor contest held in Dundonald in Ayrshire.
Good line-up for the South West Scotland Piping & Drumming Academy starting this weekend. Alan Maltman has sent this: ‘This year’s South West Scotland Piping & Drumming Academy summer school will be held at the Barony College near Dumfries from Sunday 10th July to Friday the 15th.
‘Students of all abilities will have the chance to learn from a team of tutors with a wealth of experience in teaching and success in solo and band playing. Piping tutors: Ross Cowan, William Geddes, Callum Moffat, John Cowan, Walter Cowan; Drumming tutors: Norrie Thomson, David Sheridan, Jordan Bailie.’