January 31, 2006

Our fearless forecasts 2006

Every January prompts thoughts of renewal, decline and change in all walks of life, and the piping and drumming world is no exception. As usual, we assembled our panel of experts, numbering some of the most famous and well-regarded pipers and drummers, and asked for their predictions for 2006.

We wanted to hear about the trends and the declines that they foresee. Most responses are serious, but some of the more humourous predictions carried a grain of truth in them.

The most canny of the lot follow. Either very late this year or early next year we’ll take a look at how we did. We know it’s hard for some crusty, humourless folks to understand, but please remember that it’s all in fun, which is, of course, the essence of what we do.

  • “Maxville will be hot and sticky. This will be especially true if Shotts & Dykehead end up being there.”
  • “Scotland will enjoy the warmest summer for years and the temperature will top 25 degrees at Inveraray games.”
  • “Pipers (the CPA) will have a hand in picking the set tunes from now on.”
  • “At least one big name will retire from competitive solo piping in 2006.”
  • “The new international panel of judges at this year’s World’s will make no difference to the prize list standings in any of the grades.”
  • “Shotts will play more than one tune in a medley not composed by Robert Mathieson”
  • “A North American Grade 1 band will make an appearance at a Major other than the World’s.”
  • “Field Marshal will be the best band at the World’s (again) but will not win.”
  • “The fledgling trend for balmorals worn by solo pipers will die before really getting off the ground. Tweed, however, will go from strength to strength.”
  • “SFU will win the World’s.”
  • “The 78th Frasers will continue to lead the Ontario scene, but look for the Toronto Police to be more competitive.”
  • “Cane and natural bags will continue to make a comeback, with solo pipers and top bands leading the way. Synthetic drone reeds will still be the saviour of lower and middle grade soloists and bands, but the top levels will see more cane than in previous years.”
  • “In the solos, Willie McCallum looks good for a long time, and there are a number of first-rate competitors who entertain every time out. 2006 will be another great year for playing or listening to solos.”
  • “No Grade 1 band will play wooden Sinclair chanters at the 2006 World Championships.”
  • “FMM will win the World’s.”
  • “Simon McKerrell will win at least one Gold Medal.”
  • “When it comes to the World’s, the top three will still be the top three, and the most interesting contest will be for prizes four through six, with a number of bands showing potential for improvement and moving up.”
  • “St. Laurence O’Toole will win a major championship.”
  • Jim Kilpatrick will win the World Solo Drumming.”
  • “Simpler, more musical medleys with fewer transitions between tunes will start to appear in 2006.”
  • “3/4 marches will become the ‘in’ tunes instead of 100mph hornpipes.”
  • “Watch for a breakthrough win (again) from Margaret Houlihan.”
  • “The ANAPBA movement will fizzle out and be replaced by an Alliance of World Pipe Band Associations.”
  • “Roddy MacLeod will win the Senior Piobaireachd at Oban. His new-found freedom will help re-establish him as one of the men to beat.”
  • “More pipers will be submitting tunes from sources other than the Piobaireachd Society. The interest in other styles will continue to develop as players explore the musicality of other styles.”
  • “Ian Duncan will rebound somewhere in Scotland.”
  • “Grade 4 bands in North America attending the World’s will struggle to stay interested in the music set by the RSPBA. Many of the Grade 4 bands, especially from the USA, are adult bands attempting ‘boiled down SFU and FMM’ and the mandatory tunes and settings will go down like a greasy pie on a hot day.”
  • “Greg Wilson will win Gold at Oban.”
  • “Lorne Cousin will remain in the Scotland on Sunday list of most eligible men in Scotland, but will drop below his 2005 level of No. 6.”
  • “Look for more harmonies (again) in medleys, and bands continue to push the ‘no plain breaks’ envelope.”
  • “Same three will dominate World’s again, despite talk of other bands breaking in.”
  • “Band to watch: ScottishPower. Will take fourth at World’s.”
  • “Argyllshire Gathering will attempt to run the Gold Medal on McBrayne’s ferry to Mull. The Piping Steward will explain this away as trying to expand the appeal of the AG.”
  • “The College of Piping-Scottish Pipers Association will once again run a professional; contest with an audience of five.”
  • The Joint Committee will ask senior pipers to retire in order to boost their numbers.”
  • “We will see less of the white popcorn socks, whose purpose seems only to beef up skinny legs. We will see more coloured socks, maybe with extra thick turndown tops for men.”
  • “Grades 4 and Novice Juvenile will become so good at playing easy 2/4 marches that they will forget how to play 4/4 marches, and the bands will end up being judged on marching and discipline.”
  • “2006 will mark the beginning of a long-running revolt by solo pipers against the set tune system.”
  • “The RSPBA will use more international judges at UK majors. Alastair Aitken will continue to promote the professional development of all adjudicator’s within that jurisdiction.”
  • “On the pipe band scene, Windsor Police just might make a huge impact in the Ontario Grade 1.”
  • “2006 has to be better than 2005 – too many outstanding pipers passed away in 2005. Let’s be optimistic.”
  • “The Gold Medal at Aviemore could go to James MacHattie.”


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