Response to last week’s comments on the dearth of competition reports in the piping world…..
In regards to the suggestion that competition reports are a dying art, it is actually true, writes Duncan Watson. I have expressed this to a few piping associates from whom I obtained similar responses.
It should be a pre-requisite, particularly for judges in the highest rank of Senior Judge. They should be required to occasionally submit to the various piping media outlets competition reports. They could write them from the bench or from the audience.
Those same judges at some venues have to produce assessment or critique sheets for the competitors, so they should be up for a wider sharing of their views. It is possible that such reports, if sufficiently comprehensive, might deal with some of the mysterious decisions which audience members are left in the dark about.
When all is said and done, competition performances are public performances and judges are part of this. This may be seen to place more responsibility on the judging fraternity, but if they are prepared to write assessment of critique sheets for competitors, some or a lot destined for the waste bin, then why not try and engage with audience members?
In times past the Oban Times was a source of information regarding competitions and they were often of interest. I must confess that I have not been in receipt of this newspaper for some years and don’t know if it continues with this service to pipers and enthusiasts. As everyone knows, the PIping Times is no more.
Pipers have really to be open to the negative as well as the positive aspects of these reports. Teachers teach via constructive criticism and that is largely how students/pupils learn. In this process teachers expand their own knowledge and judges having to engage in doing competition reports would expand theirs too.
Judges reporting on competitions might be expected to highlight specific aspects of a performance of a piobaireachd or a march, strathspey and reel; phrasing for example, technique, tuning and sound, or the absence of this.
These reports should be a matter for all judges of all levels, but Senior Judges should lead. They could mentor Approved Judges on this part of their duties. I am sure promoters welcome reports. It heightens the prestige of an event and gives it publicity.
I am not involved in pipe bands, but in the past I have read reports on Piping Press by the mysterious man you call MacStig. I am pretty sure the pipe band people found some of his comments of interest. That said, I am not terribly fond of the anonymity, but anonymous reports are better than nothing.
Andrew Bosch in South Africa: I agree with you 100%. I used to enjoy reading the various articles on the performances at major competitions, including those written by yourself. For those of us who are not at the standard where we can tell the difference between one performer and the next at, say, the Glenfiddich, having expert commentary teaches us ‘what to look out for’ and be aware of.
It certainly benefited my piping and made listening to competitions more enjoyable as I gradually became educated on what separated one performance from the next. Even last year, I eagerly waited for you to post an analysis on how you, or someone equally informed, interpreted the performances at the Glenfiddich, but alas there was nothing. In the same way that the great names of the past wrote the articles you describe, the current top players and judges should be encouraged, to write these types of commentaries.