Solo Judging Association Issues ‘Spring Update’

The Solo Piping Judges Association, which represents the majority but not all UK judges, has issued a ‘Spring Update’ of their activities. The Association was mired in controversy during much of 2017.

The statement: ‘The SPJA Committee met in full on March 18th at the Salutation Hotel in Perth, with Dr Angus MacDonald attending from Toronto via Skype. 

‘The following was discussed: Assessment and Training – It was agreed that the Committee would produce a concise paper on the assessment and training of judges to be reviewed at the Annual Meeting in November. The Committee will approach the Piobaireachd Society with a view to the SPJA presenting a seminar in the autumn where matters pertinent to judging might be discussed. It was felt that since the Committee has adopted the idea of introducing this forum of training and discussion that interested parties such as those senior pipers on the CPA List of Supplementary Judges be invited. 

‘Ideas which were suggested are as follows:
• Dr Angus MacDonald offered to make a presentation.
• How piping might be adjudicated at different levels, for example professional level, competition league for amateur pipers, junior competition events, and how approaches might be advantageous for these.
• The writing and giving of feedback to competitors and defining the role of adjudicators as regards positive reinforcement and advice.
• A session on judging, using different approaches on arriving at the final conclusion, in both Light Music and Piobaireachd.
• The use of recorders in checking for possible errors. 

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‘Mission Statement – It was suggested that the Association adopt a simple Mission Statement which would provide a reference to its aims and objectives. This will be ready for discussion and possible approval at the autumn meeting. 

‘Retirement Policy – It was felt that the Association should have a written policy on this, and a draft was agreed which suggested that in the first instance a judge might approach the Association should any concerns of disability in concentration and memory impairment become an issue. A suggested draft of this will be ready for discussion and possible approval at the autumn meeting. 

‘Complaints Procedure Update – It was felt that several adjustments to the Complaints Procedure were needed, and in summary the proposed changes are that:
• The Chair and the Committee can decide at the outset whether or not the complaint is pertinent to the SPJA.
• There will be a right of appeal at any stage.
• The appeal period to change from 14 to 21 days.
• There will be an option and a right whereby the person complained against may come before the Committee. 

‘At present there are no complaints outstanding and the Committee hopes that the need for consultation and use of the Complaints Procedure will be minimal in the future. The Committee has been fortunate in obtaining the advice and guidance of Mr Robin Webster of the RSPS and is grateful for his input in advising us on these matters. 


‘Judging Outside the UK – The Association received a query regarding the validity of the Code of Conduct when members of the SPJA are engaging in judging competitions outside the UK. The matter was discussed in full and it was decided that SPJA members should adhere to local guidelines when judging outside the UK, including those which refer to the judging of pupils. 

‘Consultation with Senior Judges – In response to a query received from a Senior Judge, it was decided that Senior Judges would be consulted by the Committee when a new appointment of a Senior Judge was being considered. The exact method of this was not settled upon but will be available for discussion at the autumn meeting. In the meantime, the Committee is anxious that views of all judges, not just Senior Judges, are known and represented, and urges all those with concerns and ideas to contact any Committee Member or the Chair and Secretary. 

‘Joint Eligibility Meeting – Prior to our own meeting, Colin MacLellan, Jack Taylor, and Neill Mulvie represented the SPJA at the Joint Eligibility Meeting of the Northern Meeting and the Argyllshire Gathering which decides the final entrants to those competitions. It was felt that this meeting was extremely successful, and in particular the CPA are thanked for the many hours and rigorous procedures undertaken in compiling their grading lists. The opportunity arose at this meeting to discuss briefly other piping matters, and it was felt that the input of SPJA judges of performances which were either outstanding of alternatively not of required standard might be fed back to CPA. They have agreed to set up an online method for SPJA judges to record these on a private page on their website. 

‘Tunes at Oban and Inverness – At the Joint Meeting in November it was agreed that competitors should be aware that all tunes submitted at both Oban and Inverness are considered for selection. It will be arranged that Oban informs Inverness of the tune played at Oban, and that Inverness judges will be given this information in order to assist with tune selection. 

‘Conclusion – The Committee presents these updates as a way of fully informing SPJA members of all matters pertaining to the Association and wishes to solicit and consider the views of all of its members. Consistency and transparency are a priority and as such ideas, concerns, and input is invited from everyone so that the Association can represent the views of its members to the benefit of all.’

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