April 30, 2010

RSPBA seeks advice on World’s via extensive online survey

Over  the organization’s more than 70 years, the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association may have infrequently reached out to the pipe band world for advice, but that’s exactly what it has done with the deployment of an extensive online survey to the hundreds of pipers and drummers around the world who registered their interest in participating.

The extensive questionnaire, answers to which the organization guaranteed would be kept anonymous, was sent out on April 26th. The survey focuses on the World Pipe Band Championships, asking respondents for their experiences, pros and cons of the event, and their suggestions on ways in which the event might be improved.

While the organization has not often openly sought the advice of outsiders, the move has been roundly applauded by the pipe band world as a significant step toward improving relations with interested parties.

“I think engaging bands is a good idea,” said Terry Lee, Pipe-Major of the 2009 World Champions, Simon Fraser University.  “Whether the feedback is considered is anyone’s guess. I do think the Grade 1 contest could use a shake-up with new ideas. To me, it is all there to put on a real show for BBC and the like.”

While Lee thinks the idea of collecting feedback is good, he was miffed at not being asked directly for comments at any time since his band has made the journey from Vancouver to Scotland every year since 1984.

“Frankly, I would have thought the top bands, or all bands, would have been polled individually. Having been at the worlds for 25 consecutive years you’d think an e-mail might have been considered,” Lee added.

In order to be asked to complete the survey, one had to apply in advance via the RSPBA website. The survey encompasses a wide range of questions, from those on the competition structure, to conditions for spectators, to open-ended questions asking for general suggestions.

What the organization now does with the responses is the question on the minds of many piper and drummers with a vested interest in the event.

“My hope is that this would be a huge first step in trying to engage with the customer and since they have gone to the effort of making a survey, I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt for now,” said Bruce Gandy, Pipe-Sergeant of the Grade 1 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel), a band that has competed at the World’s and in the existing qualifier system. “However, much like so many bureaucratic systems, they tend to talk about doing things and getting advice but don’t actually  do. It all just becomes a wash.”


  1. Thanks to the heads up from this site I was able to sign up for the RSPBA poll, which I completed and sent back via email. There are many interesting questions posed about the structure and duration of the contest from the point of view of both the participants and the spectators with plenty of space for comments. I’m sure that it will take quite a while for the RSPBA to review and evaluate the completed surveys. All anyone can really ask is to be given a chance to provide insightful comments and I thank the RSPBA for the opportunity to do so.

  2. Hats off to the RSPBA for looking into the format of the Worlds and including the interests of the pipe band fraternity. I really hope at least those who took part get feedback from it. Thought it a shame though that only almost 200 people” registered to take part in the survey.”



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