October 31, 2003

A Final Reply to Points Raised Regarding ‘The World’s 2003: A Judge’s View From Outside The Ring’

By Jim Hutton

My article, “The World’s 2003: A Judge’s View From Outside The Ring,” is now two weeks old, and I thought I would comment on certain items that have come forward.

First, the report was written as constructive criticism, and I had know doubt that it would ruffle a few feathers.

1. There was no direct attack, on any tenor drummers, especially Tyler Fry, who has, as I said, tremendous enthusiasm for all that he does with his band, and indeed he showed this by winning at the World’s. I have heard and seen his many performances in concert, where numerous other percussion instruments were used, and all these events have been very successful, including the one done this year with John Fisher in Glasgow.

2. With the major responses coming to Piper & Drummer Online and various other Web sites, I was very surprised to find the majority were from tenor drummers talking to each other about the content, and almost none from pipe-majors or leading drummers, to whom the article was really directed. One response I could identify was Bruce Gandy, a Gold Medallist who played for many years with the 78th Fraser Highlanders, and is currently with the 78th Highlanders (Halifax). I thank him for is positive input.

3. I was not aware of the TenorDrummer.com Web site. But have read in depth Scott Currie’s comments, and will come back to this at the end.

4. My decision to use three as a number for band tenor drummers has obviously caused a lot of concern, so much so as to question my ability. However, my memory of the World’s is very clear. There were many bands in the Grade 1 contest that played with good weight and expression with the drum corps and overall band sound. There were however a good number where the balance of the performance was dominated by the bass and tenor section, and indeed times where the bass could not be heard. That statement is a fact and what I heard in the ring.

I have no problem with larger bass and tenor sections as long as the overall balance of the melody and percussion accompaniment produces a good balanced band sound.

My use of the number three was quickly jumped on, and in grades 1 and 2 may be rightly not applicable. But it gives no one the right to assume that all performances of large or small corps are good.

5. I would ask that the article be read with its main intent: to offer constructive help – and certainly not criticism – to lower grade bands. The majority of bands in the lower grades should be ensuring that tuition is given, so that all members of the band are participating in the performance, and not, as many corps do, have members on the contest field that take little or no part in the performance.

My comments on the critic sheets deal with all matters, whether praising good play or criticizing mistakes, and provide strong input on how the percussion section’s performance can be improved. This last part is the key to ensuring that members and the band move forward in there ability to perform better.

6. I have played with the following current leading drummers: Jim Kilpatrick, Eric Ward, John Fisher, Arthur Cook, John Scullion, and others such as Bert Barr and Tom Brown. They have been my friends for the last thirty or more years, and my credibility has never been put in question either on the playing field or with a clipboard in my hand.

I have no preconceived judgments, at the start of a contest, whatever the grade, and after the result has been made I can always sleep at night. I have carried this standard of ethics through both my business and band careers.

7. This discussion could go on for a long time, but I will go back to Scott Currie’s response no doubt dealing with his own feelings, and that of his Web site. I would welcome a chat with Scott, however an online situation could get well out of hand. As I am an adjudicator for drumming in all sections of the band, whether they are big, vary in depth, or vary in tonal quality.

I propose the following: The meeting takes place in the RSPBA Headquarters, with Scott and another tenor drummer of his choice, myself, and one other adjudicator of my choice, and Eric Ward representing the snare section. Following this, Scott can put together an article on the discussion, and any clarification that results. I believe that in Scott’s response that no cynicism or malice was intended, however, I was concerned to think that it was mentioned that I may not be the best placed person to make the observations I did.

Thanking everyone for there input, and I am that sure the pipe band world can only benefit from open and frank discussion.


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