May 31, 2012

PPBSO Judges’ Seminar puts theory into practice in hands-on approach

The annual Adjudicators’ Seminar of the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario attracted 34 from the organization’s panel to the all-day workshop, despite it being the first very warm and sunny day after Canada’s long winter.

The 2012 seminar – one of which PPBSO judges are expected to attend at least every two years – took a “hands-on” approach to most of the sessions, often working with actual performances, recorded and live. The event is coordinated by the organization’s Music Committee, with committee-member Bill Livingstone leading the overall project.


“This year the emphasis is a hands-on approach to the judging issues we all face in both solo and band competitions,” Livingstone said. “It is intended to be practical, and to offer each of us new ways to come at problems, and to borrow from the experience of our colleagues.”

The seminar started with a session where the group listened to recordings from the four-band Grade 1 Medley event at the 2012 New Zealand Pipe Band Championships, a competition that saw disparate placings from the eight judges, who included Livingstone.

Using actual “report” sheets from the New Zeand Pipe Band Association, the group considered the performances and assessed each from piping, drumming and ensemble perspectives, depending on one’s specialty on the PPBSO panel. A lively debate followed, judges trading notes, citing observations and considering whether a consultative process would have helped or hindered the New Zealand competition. The PPBSO is one of the few pipe band associations that requires judges to discuss an event as a group before submitting final results.

The next session focused on solo piping and snare drumming, with actual active competitors delivering performances to each group. Professional-grade pipers Jon Bellia, Daniel Carr and MacGregor Ven Den Ven performed an MSR and a piobaireachd, and, much like the previous session, the performances were discussed and debated, exemplifying the constructively subjective nature of adjudication. Following that, Ed Neigh and Steven Hill ran a “master class” with the pipers and drummers, respectively, taking each “contestant” through a lesson-like analysis and critique of their performances.

The day concluded with a session run by Glenna Mackay-Johnstone, where adjudicators had to list two difficult situations that they have been or may be faced with while judging, broke into groups of two or three to discuss potential solutions, and came back to the group as a whole to trade notes and experiences.

Attending the event were:

Peter Aumonier

Scott Bell

Andrew Berthoff

Tom Bowen

Ross Brown

Hugh Cameron

Terry Cleland

Barry Conway (EUSPBA)

Ken Eller

John Elliott

Hugh Goldie

Michael Grey

Steve Hill

Mike Hunter

Patricia Kirkwood

Iain Lang

Bill Livingstone

Bob MacCrimmon

Charlie MacDonald

John MacDonald

Calum MacDonald

Bruce MacDonald

Glenna Mackay-Johnstone

Reay Mackay

Doug MacRae

Ellen Mole

Ed Neigh

Geoff Neigh

Scott Nicholson

Jim Scott

Peter Sinclair

Iain Symington

Brian Williamson

Larry Willis

Bob Worrall

The PPBSO expects its judges to attend a seminar every two years, while other associations such as the EUSPBA and RSPBA require minimum bi-annual attendance to remain active on their panels. Rather than putting them off its panel, the PPBSO removes judges who have not maintained their professional development expectation from its “published list,” so as to help inform other associations in their invitations to guest judges.




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