March 31, 2010

PPBSO launches comprehensive mid-section judging certification

The remarkable rise in popularity of pipe band bass- and tenor-drumming over the last 15 years has prompted the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario to deploy an extensive mid-section adjudication certification system, with the criteria used to determine candidates the same as those set for piping and snare drumming.

The program was launched with a seminar on March 28th that was offered both in-person and over the Internet, using leading-edge online teaching methods. As with Ontario’s piping and snare drumming exams, attending the pre-exam seminar is mandatory before sitting the examination.

According to Tyler Fry, coordinator of the program as a member of the PPBSO’s Music Board, the judging certification process is the first to use the Systematic Approach to Training (SAT), a global training standard that works as a backbone for the process. The candidates met using online seminar desktop presentation methods via Cisco’s Webex application.

The Bass and Tenor Certification process draws from existing PPBSO theory and judging components, as well as the RSPBA’s PDQB syllabus and Royal Conservatory of Music standards and criteria for professional musicians, Fry added.

While mid-section judging on its own is not a part of PPBSO pipe band competitions, it does offer extensive solo bass and tenor competitions that have traditionally been adjudicated by those without formal accreditation in bass and tenor judging.

“The certification process lays the groundwork for bass and tenor drummers to potentially be brought into the ensemble certification process at a later date,” Fry said.

Fry said that the examination, which will be held on April 11th, will see candidates undergo a three-part test on “1. Their understanding of advanced musical theory, 2. Their ability to think critically in a pipe band musical context, 3. Their ability to identify and demonstrate melodic, rhythmic and harmonic structures as part of a final practical component – tools deemed necessary for a modern bass or tenor drum judge but that no other process in the world currently utilizes.”

Those who participated in the inaugural seminar were Lauren Bonnett, Kahlil Cappuccino, Mike Cole, Craig Colquhoun, Scott Currie, Tyler Fry, Reagan Jones, Joy McIlveen, Emily McLeod and Johnny Rowe, all of whom are PPBSO members.

“Following positive feedback from last summer’s mid-section judging trial, this entire process demonstrates an exciting and enormous step forward for bass and tenor drummers and for pipe bands,” Fry concluded. “In addition to having credible and certified judges on the field, for the first time in history, young bass and tenor drummers can look forward to having the opportunity to enhance their professional development tailored to their discipline.  I’m excited about what the future has in store for these musicians.”

The mid-section examination process has been in development for almost two years and was created by a committee of some of the world’s foremost bass and tenor drummers.


  1. Wow, it’s about time! Way to push for progress, guys. I love that they are developing it in such a professional way, utilizing the latest in training programs and technology. Keep it up!



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