Pipe Band Size Matters Debate: Armstrong and Livingstone take sides

Published: April 13, 2014
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The growing size of pipe bands in every grade continues to be a topic of hot discussion, with no apparent addressing of the issue by any association. In every grade, there are the haves and have-nots, with bands with a pipe section of minimum numbers trying to compete with those of 22, 24 and more.

There are minimums for sections sizes, but, so far, no maximums, as discussed in this July 2013 Blogpipe post. In August last year, pipes|drums held a debate that we called “Size Matters” where Pipe-Major Chris Armstrong of the Grade 1 ScottishPower Pipe Band argued against placing maximum numbers on competing pipe bands, while Bill Livingstone, former pipe-major of the Grade 1 78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe Band argued for limits.

The scene before the Size Matters debate began at the Street Cafe at Piping Live!

The event was held on August 15, 2013, to a large audience at the Street Café outside of the National Piping Centre at the Piping Live! Glasgow International Piping Festival. We captured the event on video, and present it here in four segments.

With the new pipe band competition season close to starting in the northern hemisphere, the world will be watching and counting the size of the world’s most successful bands in ever grade. We hope that you enjoy the debate, and consider your own opinion on what, if anything, should be done about the matter of size.

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  1. kiegelmann

    Great idea, this debate was interesting to listen to. I feel like Mr. Livingstone had the better argument with regards to the whole numbers game. If a band is full, a player needs to move on, pretty simple. It’s no different than signing up for a soccer/golf league to find out they have filled up all of their spots – you don’t quit that sport, you find another place to play. This will make the PM’s job more interesting as “try-outs” would be much more common. It will also make players maybe work even harder so they can grab that spot in their dream band.

    The Grade 2, 3 & 4′s will benefit from the size restrictions, there is no argument there. I do agree with Mr. Armstrong with respect the limiting the midsection/sides as well.

    What is the perfect number? 22 pipers, 7 sides, 4 tenors and a bass? I am not in a Grade 1 band to understand completely what they think is the perfect number.

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