Seven years after it originally implemented it, the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario has eliminated its practice of consultative pipe band judging, a topic of active debate for at least the last two years. Ontario was the only jurisdiction to use the program, in which pipe band judges convene following an event to exchange notes and observations with an objective to allow adjudicators to amend their rankings if they wished.
The move, which has not yet been communicated to the organization’s more than 1,100 members, was made following several votes by at least four different groups, the final by the PPBSO’s governing board of directors.
The PPBSO’s Music Committee, made up
almost entirely of accredited adjudicators, voted to keep consultative judging, with only one member reportedly voting to eliminate it.
“At the most recent PPBSO Board meeting the directors upheld the membership vote and decided against using consultative judging at band competitions,” PPBSO President Duncan MacRae commented.
Late in 2012 the PPBSO’s board sent out a one-item questionnaire to member bands, with each band allowed one vote responding Yes or No on whether the consultative system should be retained. MacRae said that member bands “voted against consultative judging,” but did not provide further details.
At the organization’s October 2012 annual general meeting a motion was made to abolish the practice. Attending members, representing about 4% of the total body of the association, voted to eliminate it, but reportedly because of the narrow representation of members in the vote “the directors subsequently sought opinions from various stakeholders,” MacRae said.
Adjudicator proponents of the consultative system often claimed that the practice allowed judges to hear about both pros and cons of band performances from their colleagues’ perspective. Opponents of the practice often cited the potential for adjudicators to be swayed by more vocal judges.
The solo piping and drumming world routinely uses a consultative method for judging benches of two or more, with adjudicators conferring to come up with a mutually agreed final result.