Adjudicators Seminar explores topical issues; condemns RSPBA decision
The annual Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario Adjudicators Seminar on May 2, 2009, in Milton, Ontario, attracted more than 35 judges attending in-person and a few from as far away as Glasgow and Houston, with the use of Skype video. The focus of the day-long event was “ensemble,” with sessions delving into various aspects of the subject.
Near the end of the day in an open discussion, the group also voted unanimously – with two abstentions – to express its condemnation of the RSPBA’s decision to suspend “international” judges from its panel.
The day opened with a session, “The Future of Pipe Band Judging,” with Bob Worrall moderating, taking into considering the effect that the UK’s Musical Appreciation and Performance (MAP) may have had so far on the way pipe bands can be assessed. The PPBSO has no plans to adopt the MAP system, in which lower-grade bands compete using a set list of 2/4 marches and drums scores, and the discussion focused on the possibility of using “an ensemble ear” for all aspects of pipe band judging.
PPBSO Music Board member Jim Scott moderated a session in which leaders from Ontario’s Grade 1 bands discussed their approach to ensemble, development of content, positioning of players, volume, dynamics and harmonies to gain an overall effect. Comprising, Michael Grey and Reagan Jones, Toronto Police; James MacHattie and Drew Duthart, Scottish Lion-78th Fraser Highlanders; and John Cairns and Graham Brown, Peel Regional Police, the panel fielded questions from attending judges, and a detailed discussion of creative content took place, with panelists raising varying concerns about restricting creativity in competition medleys because of the attitudes of some judges about what might be appropriate pipe band music.
Tyler Fry and Scott Currie joined the next session via Skype from Houston and Glasgow, respectively, for “The Evolving Mid-Section” discussion, moderated by bass-drummer Mike Cole of the North American Pipe Band. Bass drummers Reagan Jones of the Toronto Police, Kahlil Cappucino, 78th Highlanders (Halifax); and Johnny Rowe and Lauren Bonnett, Scottish Lion-78th Fraser Highlanders were part of the lively session, which discussed, among many issues, the use of "colouristic" and "functionalistic" tuning of mid-section instruments.
Pending final approval of the PPBSO’s Executive, the organization may test-fly the adjudication of pipe band mid-sections at various competitions in 2009. If the experiment moves ahead, judges’ comments and marks will be for feedback purposes only, with no bearing on actual results.
During the “Miscellaneous open forum discussion” near the end of the day the issue of the RSPBA’s suspension of six “international” adjudicators from Australia and Ontario for alleged failure to adhere to the purported policy of providing sample scoresheets from each judge’s home association. The RSPBA maintains that it communicated the policy to associations and judges, yet there is no written record yet known of the policy.
In a show of support for the suspended Ontario judges – Greg Dinsdale, Ken Eller and Bob Worrall – those present at the PPBSO Adjudication Seminar unanimously approved a symbolic condemnation of the decision. Dinsdale and Worrall abstained from the vote, and Eller was not present at the seminar.
Because the PPBSO’s Adjudicators Panel has no official authority within the organization to enact or enforce policy, the condemnation was seen by the group as representational only. The RSPBA’s decision to suspend “international” judges emanated from that organization’s annual adjudicators seminar in November 2008.
“It was a spirited and lively day of discussions,” said PPBSO Music Board Chair, Andrew Berthoff, who managed the agenda. “The sessions explored some sensitive and at times contentious topics and a variety of opinions were expressed and debated. I hope that all who attended learned from the day. If that’s the case, then we’re all better judges, and ultimately that’s good for the competitors, which is what it’s all about.”
The PPBSO asks that its accredited judges attend at least one official professional development seminar every two years to remain on its published list of adjudicators.