PP Ed's Blog: Judging Poll/ Scottish Schools/ Sponsorship/ Nerves Cure/Overseas Trips

It would seem that most readers think we should be allowing judges to keep going irrespective of age provided they are healthy. That’s the main finding of our poll launched last week following my article Judging Dilemma – When is it Time to Call it a Day? 
Forty-three per cent of respondents thought this the best way forward, even though it puts them out of step with the RSPBA who have a ban on judges aged over 75. However a large proportion of respondents believed the Association has the right approach with 34% happy with the status quo.
This age limit does not affect solo piping where there is no rule or law. It is up to promoters to police their benches on this and all other issues involving adjudicators. Any action is usually unnecessary with individuals knowing themselves when it is time to call it a day. James Campbell, David Murray and Donald MacPherson are three that spring to mind. As I said before, sitting for 12 hours doing a Silver or Gold Medal is a considerable physical and mental challenge.

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Organisers of the Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships are reminding all concerned that the closing date for entries is 26 January. Schools without a full band need just four pipers, or three pipers and a tutor, to be able to enter the quartet event.

The championships take place on 11th March at Inveralmond Community High School in Livingston West Lothian. For more information and to submit entries, visit www.thechampionships.org.uk

Reading the reports on recent junior and amateur contests such as Saturday’s Graeme Johnston, I think we should take a moment to congratulate all the manufacturers who generously support these events. These youngsters may be customers in the future and there may be publicity to be had, but that should not deflect from the fact that prize pipes, engraved practice chanters and other very expensive items are regularly on offer to the young solo piper. So take a bow chaps and keep up the sponsorship; piping needs it and it is appreciated. 

Are you someone who gets very nervous when playing in public, whose fingers seize up at the mere mention of an audience or judge’s bench? Have a read at this from a recent issue of the Daily Telegraph: ‘Finally, my thanks to a reader for further confirmation of the efficacy of the noted gin-and-raisin remedy. When his friend, a jazz guitarist, consulted his doctor about stiffness in his hands that was impeding his playing, the GP mentioned that one of his patients similarly afflicted was much helped by G&R. He duly gave it a go and, within a few days was, apparently, back strumming away.
‘It could not be simpler: empty a box of raisins into a plastic container, cover with gin and, once evaporated, eat nine during the day. The raisins act like a slow-release pill, dispensing a small amount of alcohol over an hour or two, relaxing the muscles and thus easing the stiffness of the joints.’

BBC Northern Ireland Television ran a documentary last week about piper Victoria Catterson who learned via P/M Andy McGregor and the Province’s  Music Service for Pipes and Drums www.mspd.co.uk.  After only a year Victoria found herself on band trips to Lorient Festival and to Moscow. Victoria, pictured left above with friends Chloe and Robyn Freen, said the Russia trip was one she wouldn’t forget in a hurry and encouraged others to take up the instrument. ‘You never know where you might end up,’ said Victoria.
Quite Victoria. Just ask Craig Munro of Wallace Bagpipes and Tyler Fry. These two worthies are recovering from last week’s South American Pipe Band Championships in Santiago, Chile, where they were judging. Craig and Tyler and pictured up top. It was the seventh year of the competition and a great time was had by all. Is this the winning band?

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