January 31, 2005

Consensus-building the focus of ANAPBA Summit

The sixth annual summit of the Alliance of North American Pipe Band Associations (ANAPBA) was held at the Fort Garry Hotel in Winnipeg January 7-9 with nine of the 10 member-organizations participating in lively and occasionally contentious discussions on an array of topics, ranging from competitor performance ratings to professional development of adjudicators to the World Pipe Band Championships.

The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association (RSPBA) participated in the summit, sending its chairman, Kevin Reilly, to speak to matters relevant to his association. The Atlantic Canada Pipe Band Association was the only member organization not to attend the event.

The summit was broken into a Presidents Group and a Music Initiatives Advisory Committee Group, the latter being for representatives from member associations’ music boards. The groups met both separately and collectively.

Among the more significant items discussed at the summit was the implementation by several organizations of a performance ratings system for competitions, whereby competitors are not awarded points, but have their performance placed in a quadrant reflecting how well it met the standard expected of the grade. The British Columbia Pipers Society (BCPA) and the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario (PPBSO) were two organizations that implemented limited systems in 2004 and reported on its success.

It was recommended at the end of the summit that all ANAPBA organizations implement performance rating systems. The PPBSO has already determined that starting in 2005 it will use its system for all of its solo and band events.

The summit included a discussion of the way that the RSPBA has dealt with North American bands playing at the World Pipe Band Championships or other RSPBA events. It was agreed at the ANAPBA summit that a request would go to the RSPBA not to grade North American bands at any time, and to honour the gradings of a band’s home association.

It was also recommended that when the RSPBA is in doubt as to a North American band’s grade, it should deal directly with the band’s home association, rather than deal with the band directly. In past years several instances have arisen with bands competing at the World Championships being assigned to a different grade without the knowledge of the band or its home association. The most well-known example was in 2001 when the Prince Charles Pipe Band of San Francisco had been formally upgraded to Grade 1 by its association, the Western United States Pipe Band Association (WUSPBA); entered the Grade 1 contest at the World Championships; and learned two weeks before the contest that the RSPBA had decided to put the band in Grade 2.

Reilly updated ANAPBA members on the progress of the move to make its judging panel more international, and invited all organizations to propose judges who fit the RSPBA’s criteria to be A-level judges. One of the attributes of an A-level RSPBA judge is to have no current affiliation with any pipe band. Reilly stressed that those nominated who meet the RSPBA’s criteria for qualification would not have to go through the RSPBA’s testing process, and would instead participate in a seminar that reviews the RSPBA’s judging system and any other characteristics of judging at the World Pipe Band Championships.

He also said that a Piper & Drummer Online news story that quoted a source saying that 20 – 30 per cent of the World’s judging panel would be non-Scottish adjudicators was incorrect.

Reilly tapped the ANAPBA presidents group for its ideas on how the RSPBA could better celebrate its 75th anniversary year in 2005. The RSPBA is considering a celebration during the week before the World Championships. The week preceding the 2004 World’s saw the first Piping Hot International Festival of Piping in Glasgow, in which the Glasgow City Council had provided a grant of more than £200,000 towards the venture. Plans are underway for the 2005 International Festival of Piping.

A formal recommendation was made for all North American associations to invite judges from other North American associations to professional development sessions for adjudicators. It was also recommended that associations should consider allowing attendance at the professional development seminars of other associations to count towards meeting any requirement to maintain membership on active judging panels. The Eastern United States Pipe Band Association (EUSPBA) requires its judges to attend a judges’ seminar at least once every two years, and other North American organizations have similar, but less formal, policies.

The summit members also decided that an invitation would be extended to the RSPBA to send a member of its Music Board to participate in topics relevant to that organization.

The two-day summit was punctuated by strong consensus-building, with the 20-plus attendees working towards finding common goals and common ground. Collectively, the 10 ANAPBA organizations represent nearly 500 pipe bands comprising more than 10,000 individuals, with each organization reporting substantial growth year over year.

Formal recommendations and developments from the 2005 ANAPBA Summit will be posted on the alliance’s Web site.

The 2005 Summit was hosted by the Prairie Pipe Band Association. The 2006 ANAPBA Summit will be hosted by the Southern United States Pipe Band Association, and is scheduled for January 6-8 in Orlando, Florida. The 2007 summit will be in Toronto, hosted by the PPBSO.


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