New Adjudicator Chief Announces Biggest Ever Intake of RSPBA Judges

Robert Mathieson, the new Convenor of the RSPBA’s Adjudicator Panel

Robert Mathieson, the new Convenor of the RSPBA’s Adjudicator Panel Management Board, has announced a significant increase in its training programme.

This month, a total of 28 candidates, 14 piping and drumming and 14 ensemble, are attending an online course bringing together prospective pipe band adjudicators from around the world.

Mr Mathieson, a five times winner of the World Pipe Band Championship as P/M of Shotts & Dykehead, said the expansion was a vote of confidence in the ‘future growth in pipe band competitions’. 

He went on: ‘We are fortunate to be hosting this new online training programme for some of the very best pipers and drummers worldwide, many with great experience and others who are rising stars wishing to serve as attached adjudicators.’ 

Speaking more broadly Mr Mathieson reassured bands: ‘The adjudicators panel should not be perceived as a secretive group that is unapproachable and unwilling to answer the question why?, whether it be about playing, technique, tone or musical appreciation.

‘As Convener I will be pursuing a transparent approach to our task within the RSPBA, with the bands needs first and foremost.

‘Our training focuses on-hands on advice, gaining practical experience, nurturing and developing a better critique sheet using vocabulary and musical terminology that helps the bands.

‘We are trying to eradicate the lazy adjudication descriptors of ‘quite good attack’ and ‘nice chanter sound’ – 7th place. Quality feedback is the overriding message.’

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In the 2023 season the RSPBA adjudicator panel collectively produced over 3,500 critique sheets – a massive administration task for both the Association and its judges. Writing these sheets involves finding suitable wording and then, at the end of the contest, compiling a first to last order of merit within a ten minute period. 

As well as 2024 holding the largest adjudicator training course it will be the first to be offered online. Training modules and newly completed video presentations, will be supplemented with live sessions based on judging experience from both minor and major competitions.

All participants have agreed to do trial runs shadow judging at major and minor contests in 2024 and if their band timetable does not free up enough time they can complete in 2025. Bands should look out for these new faces going through their training this summer.

Mr Mathieson added. ‘Hopefully this will be the start of a new era where the adjudication panel can offer a transparent conduit to pipe band education.

‘Since producing these video modules, feedback suggests they would be a valuable resource for bands and affiliated organisations. Hopefully we can explore and develop this idea further.’

The online course

Of the 14 piping and drumming candidates, four are from affiliated overseas associations, including in Ontario, New Zealand and British Columbia. The 14 ensemble candidates are from the current APMB membership with three from outside the UK.

Course topic presenters include John Wilson, Stuart Coils, Donald MacPhee and Tom Brown.

Mr Mathieson: ‘With ongoing feedback via a specified mentor, each student will cover all the areas of adjudication. Who said anything about an exam? Exams often only highlight the candidates with the best memory or revising discipline.

‘It is not a simple case of completing a course and sitting an exam. There is no single graduation day. Hands on mentoring, guidance and motivational encouragement will be customised to suit the timetable of each individual. This will allow for ongoing succession planning on the adjudicators panel in the future with an eye on global representation.’  

The APMB have agreed a new appointment of Training Coordinator who will focus on the continuous professional development of panel members and coordinate courses for new trainees. An Adjudicator Development Group reports to the APMB, and its responsibilities include running, live adjudication trials, course feedback and record keeping.

Mr Mathieson took over as Convenor from John Wilson following the APMB AGM in November. Fifty-one members attended. Fellow adjudicators unanimously thanked John for his sterling work in leading the panel. John is a long serving member of the adjudicator’s panel and will continue adjudicating in 2024.

2024 Office bearers: Robert Mathieson, Convenor, Peter Snaddon, Vice Convener, John Reville / Paul Brown –Secretary/shared post pro tem, Ross Walker, Piping Representative, Jennifer Hutcheon, Ensemble, Paul Turner, Drumming, John Noble D/Ms, Maurice Rhodes – Adjudication Training Coordinator

2 thoughts on “New Adjudicator Chief Announces Biggest Ever Intake of RSPBA Judges

  1. Give it a rest Iain!
    The public were told exactly what happened (including on this very website 31/10/23).
    There were discrepancies on the score sheet and when asked to account for them he couldn’t and AGREED to have them discounted. Human error by a man not at his best on the day. Nothing underhand or inappropriate. Sorry to disappoint you.
    If anything is undermining confidence it would be the constant sniping like yours.

  2. A new approach of “openness”, yet as a paying customer to the Worlds I/we still have no “openess” regarding the removal of one judge’s results therefore little confidence in the overall result of the competition! It must be remembered that the paying public must also have confidence in the product on show and the fairness of the outcome the highly trained judging panel produce, otherwise what is the point sitting in the stand awaiting the result of a lottery with missing balls?

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