I’ve been thinking again about judging accreditation.
Several associations in North America have had sophisticated
adjudication examination programs for solo judges for years. I know
that Ontario established its system in 1988, and the EUSPBA started
its own process around the same time. These and other associations
have worked to improve their accreditation programs and the
requirements for consideration are stringent.
At all sanctioned events in North America, solo judges need to have
formal accreditation. In fact, the 10 organizations that comprise
the Alliance of North American Pipe Band Associations collectively
agreed that accreditation is a requirement to judge.
There is a unified acceptance that accreditation is good for the
competitions, and what’s good for the competitions is good for the
competitors. Competitors want to know that they are been assessed
by not just a competent former-competitor who has done the business
for the required length of time, but by someone who has proven that
he or she has the necessary skills to be a good judge.
As John-Angus Smith discussed in his recent 10 Questions With . . . interview,
there is no formal accreditation process that solo judges have to
go through in the UK. There it’s pretty much a grandfathering
tradition. If you’ve won a sack-load of prizes (or have a
membership with the Royal Scottish Pipers Society and talk a good
piobaireachd), seem to be a good person and are interested and
available to commit a day in return for some tea, a sandwich, a
chocky-bick, and a few pounds, then you’re eligible to judge.
Further, there aren’t even score sheets or even formal feedback to
So why, then, do North American associations happily invite
unaccredited pipers and drummers from the UK to judge their
sanctioned events? Doesn’t it contravene agreed policy and
undermine the accreditation process? If demonstrating officially
that one is not only a good player but a good judge is essential,
then why do we give some accomplished players a bye and others
Perhaps non-UK associations are still enamored with pipers and
drummers with Scottish accents. Or maybe ANAPBA organizations
really don’t take accreditation that seriously. But every time an
unaccredited “guest” piper or drummer is brought in to judge,
doesn’t it contradict 20 years of diligent effort to establish and
adhere to the entire examination process?
I ask you.