PPBSO rolls out Education & Theory program
The Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario will introduce the first stages of its Education & Theory program at an introductory seminar for teachers and pipe band leaders on January 31st at the organization’s headquarters in Milton, Ontario. The program has been in development with the PPBSO’s Music Board for longer than a year.
“The program is designed as a general music theory course for all pipers, snare drummers and mid-section drummers,” Doug Stronach, director of the initiative, said. “All disciplines will study and sit the same exam together. The goal is not only to improve our understanding of traditional music theory, but to also improve communication and understanding between pipers and drummers.”
The initial program addresses an introductory level, and ultimately there will be three levels to the program overall. The Education & Theory Program is designed to address a perceived shortfall in learning with many pipers and drummers, with a further aim of attaining approval with the Ontario Ministry of Education to extend high school credits to those completing the various levels.
“There are lots of benefits and on different levels,” Stronach added. “Musically speaking, I think it’s obvious that if pipers and drummers can learn and share information in a way that’s common to both instruments, then the communication gap that exists between them will improve. That should equate to better and more interesting ensemble performances and musical arrangements, as well as strong leadership and musicianship within all sections of a pipe band.”
The curriculum employs standards and texts used by the Royal Conservatory of Music. While it focuses on piping and drumming, the program integrates information from the musical world outside of Highland piping and pipe band drumming.
The PPBSO’s Education & Theory Program may eventually be combined with the organization’s Adjudication and Teaching programs, conceivably as a prerequisite for sitting the judging exam and, potentially, a new accreditation program for piping and drumming teachers.
The program may also be integrated eventually into the actual assessment of solo grades, so that pipers and drummers progress not only by demonstrating playing prowess, but by proving their knowledge of music theory.
“The adjudication exam might then become focused on situational-type questions and practical training specific to becoming a judge,” Stronach said. “In time, we hope that most players will have all three theory certificates completed by the time they reach Grade 1 band or Professional solos.”
PPBSO President Bob Allen said that the program fits with his organization’s goal of expanding its objectives beyond the promotion of performance skill and competition.