Apart from running Pipe Band Magazine for the RSPBA and reporting on competitions, I have no direct involvement in the pipe band competition milieu. I am essentially on the periphery – the best place for the fourth estate in that fraught world.
It was not always so given that I learned piping via the pipe band system in the Boys Brigade and later graduated to Muirhead & Sons at age 17. I remember the bitter feuding and fierce competition. How the system was against you when you lost; judges were corrupt when they failed to give you what you were due.
Yet we never heard a full competition from any point of preferred vantage the way adjudicators do. We played – Grade 1 or Juvenile – and then went to the beer tent or down town for a carry-on. Come the results there we were sounding off never having even heard the victorious opposition. There were some injustices no doubt but by and large I think our angst all a huge waste of time and energy. It is an unfortunate downside of our competition system that the politics is often promoted above the music. I was as guilty as anyone. But looking back one comes to realise that whilst one endures the other becomes rather passé very quickly.
Sanctimony aside, I hope those consumed with anger over the situation at Pipe Bands Australia will reflect on this for a few moments today. Teaching, passing on what you know, getting your band to play well is so much more important than personal attack and politics. With the right approach the latter all washes away through time leaving little chips of musical gold.
Smart new ad for Braemar Gathering:
Get along to the College of Piping tomorrow for the Adult Amateur competition run by the Scottish Pipers Association. It is one of the few amateur contests open to adults of all grades. SPA officials – please forward the results with picture if poss.
Over in the sun in Florida we have the Dunedin Games. Our correspondent has sent the draw in the Professional and Grade 1 Piping:
Click on the link above for more. Results to follow.
Pipe Band Magazine now available to read, free, courtesy the RSPBA: