Published: November 30, 1997

If not now, then when? If not you, then whom?

[Originally published as an Editorial]

Most readers of the Piper & Drummer compete in piping, drumming, and pipe band events. Competition can make us see our world and our music in a critical light, making us perhaps too often too quick to judge in everything what’s good and what’s not, what’s better and what’s worse.

Pipers and drummers consequently are often overly critical of the people who make the whole thing work, the volunteers who organize competitions, who perform the administrative duties that allow us to hold events, to compete, and to better our arts.

Except for the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, which has the resources to appoint and pay a full time administrative staff, all other organizations cross their fingers and hope good people will voluntarily work for us.

An excellent example of tireless effort is that of Henry Roberts, president of the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario for nine years. During that time, he has dedicated a staggering amount of his personal time to piping and drumming in Ontario. He didn’t have to work for us. He could have easily concentrated on family and fishing, but, instead, he did what he thought was right for the membership of the PPBSO.

For sure, no politician, whether professional or volunteer, will have his constituents in agreement 100% of the time, and Henry Roberts, as he would no doubt be the first to agree, is no exception.

Even the Piper & Drummer magazine is assembled and distributed largely on a voluntary basis. It’s hoped that our several thousand readers worldwide will gain something positive, whether it’s a tidbit of information, a laugh at a joke, or a particularly insightful comment from one of our many luminaries who basically volunteer their time and expertise for the good of all.

Every piping and pipe band organization around the world looks to volunteers to make it all work. Without exception, they all perform their tasks to the best of their ability, and for this they cannot be faulted.

Every so often it’s important to step back to realize and appreciate the good work the volunteers of the piping and drumming world do for all of us. We’re often too quick to attack, to point out perceived faults and inadequacies, and to insist volunteers act more like professionals. It must be difficult for these volunteers who try their best to do a good job, only to be criticized by those for whom they work.

With few exceptions, those who do the most grousing about the work of volunteers are the ones who sit back and do least. To these people we can only paraphrase the famous words of John Kennedy: ask not what your pipe band association can do for you, ask what you can do for your association.

The fall is a time when many pipe band associations in the northern hemisphere hold their annual general meetings. Occasionally, people who attend these meetings forget that the administrators are all amateurs trying to do things in their spare time as well as professionals. The truth is that, without volunteers, nothing would get done. It would be great if we could temper our customary competitive approach, and appreciate the efforts of those who could easily have chosen to do something else for themselves.

As this issue of the Piper & Drummer is the last during the presidency of Henry Roberts, we would like to say thanks, on behalf of pipers and drummers everywhere, for the effort you’ve made. And thanks, also, to pipers, drummers and enthusiasts around the world who volunteer their time, expertise, and good will for everyone’s benefit.

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