Editor’s Notebook: Band Sizes & Major Champs./ Florida Academy/ Balvenie Medal/ D Naill Prices/ Military Tunes

The RSPBA should be in no doubt about the concern out there as regards the ‘Missing Majors’ and band sizes.

The comments keep coming in to PP. Unfortunately the recent ones are all anonymous, so of course the impact is lessened. People complain of the lack of transparency at the Association then they correspond anonymously! I think they believe their band will suffer if they go public with their thoughts. Nonsense really, but there you have it.

Still, anonymous or not, the points raised below are all valid even if you don’t agree with them.

Anon: ‘I don’t think it can be assumed that more bands would thrive automatically if numbers were limited. In fact I think the law of unintended consequences might mean the complete opposite.

RC: ‘Over the past 20 years or so, the winning pipe majors of the top bands have destroyed the ethos of the pipe band movement, have decimated the very life blood of the organisation, the smaller lower grade bands who supply most of their players.

‘Their entire focus is completely self-centred on their own band, they care not a jot about the future of the movement. Many of them never teach a player from scratch, and they take all the plaudits while the great and the good relentlessly bow and scrape around them.’


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Fuzz: ‘Perhaps some of the Scottish bands might consider a run at one or more of the North American contests: Maxville, Chicago or others? After all, the NA bands have been supporting the Worlds for decades and spent a lot of money doing so. Time to reciprocate and get a run at a new and different contest, visit a new place?’

Anon: ‘Surely band sponsors want to see their brand out there. If the bands at the top are not competing at five majors, I can only imagine sponsorship will be on the decline. RSPBA need to accept they are not fit for purpose and reach out for help quickly and listen to suggestions and act on them whilst openly keeping their membership informed.’

Anon: ‘Maximum band size would be fantastic for sure. Could even expand Grade 1 into 1A and 1B – is long overdue.’ 


Florida P&D Academy

There’s been a very good intake for next month’s Florida Academy (Feb 18 -23). If you are interested in attending then today is your last chance to register. Click here.

Instructors are myself, Barry Donaldson, Bill Caudill, Matt Pantaleoni, Stephen Creighton and Simon Hodgett. The school finishes the day before the Northeast Florida Games at Green Cove Springs where the instructors will be judging bands and solos.


Balvenie Medal

Jimmy McIntosh and his wife Joyce with the Balvenie Medal, 2002

Each year William Grant & Sons pick an individual they believe is deserving of their Balvenie Medal for ‘services to piping’. It is a worthwhile award and it is presented amid much fanfare at the Glenfiddich Championship each October.

The Piping Centre, who run the Glenfiddich, have announced that a committee has now been formed to select future candidates for the medal and they are inviting submissions from the piping public.

Events Manager for the Centre, Helen Urquhart: ‘Nominations for the 2024 Balvenie Medal open on 1st February and close on March 31. A committee consisting of representatives of both the William Grant Foundation and the National Piping Centre plus two external members will then consider all the nominations and determine the recipient of the award for this year.

‘Anyone in the worldwide piping community is welcome to nominate a suitable candidate. Email: hurquhart@thepipingcentre.co.uk.’


David Naill Bagpipes

Davd Naill Bagpipes have announced that their prices are to increase slightly from February 1. However any orders received before that date will be covered by the current price list.

If you are thinking about a new chanter or set of pipes then it would be wise to save some money and place the order before the deadline – even though delivery might be two months hence.


Military Tunes

Colonel Milan J Kobulnicky, US Army Special Forces, Retired: ‘A year ago we began to tell the story of all the pipe tunes about military battles, heroes, leaders, from 1750 to now. We give you the tune and its story.    

‘In the past year we have completed ten books, over 1,000 tunes with 1000 pages of historical narratives. Many hours of research and work went into this effort. 2D Editions are planned as we continue to receive more tunes, updated history and pictures.  We are over half way through the project and when finished it will be the largest collection of pipe music since before 1900.  

‘We have a team from around the globe helping us: John Spoore, Harry Stevenson, Jeannie Campbell, Stephen Beattie, Micheal Grey, Bob Worrall, Iain Bell, Blue MacMurchie and many others.  

‘The project is not for commercial sale and when finished we would like to give it to an institution that can keep it alive. Right now we are finishing WW1 and the Boer War which alone is over 150 tunes. After that we are doing India/Crimea/Napoleonic Wars.’ Contact Milan here


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