November 30, 2006

SFU makes formal response to RMM2 discussions

Terry Lee, pipe-major of the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band, comments on recent stories and reader-comments on the upgrade and application to down-grade the Robert Malcolm Memorial II Pipe Band. We publish his letter verbatim:

“In response to increasing levels of silly innuendo and negative comment about our organization, the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band would like to provide pipes|drums readers a perspective on recent events.

“The goal of the SFU Pipe Band has always been to produce the most competitive and entertaining pipe band possible. To support that goal, and also to give back to the British Columbia piping community, we started the Robert Malcolm Memorial Pipe Band in 1994. In fact, SFU has had a grade two band for nearly about 20 years. It was the first ‘other’ band that SFU started. Over the years, there have been poor, fair, good, excellent and non-existent (years off) Grade 2 bands in the organization. Some years there were not enough players to field a band. The Juvenile band has also ranged in quality over the past dozen years. These bands/grades are cyclical and cover the entire range. Players move through the bands, move forward or, sometimes, move on. That is how SFU has tried to run the program.

“Over the years, the organization has worked extremely hard at all levels to produce good musicians and good bands, all with the primary goals of developing the community, and maintaining the SFU¹s ability to field the best band possible. RMM members have worked extremely hard all the way through. A combination of hard work, talented players and excellent leadership have led to world championship wins at the Juvenile and Grade 2 levels. We are enormously proud of everyone in RMM and what they have accomplished.

“There have always been people bitter about the band¹s success and growth, and willing to cast aspersions under assumed names and behind our backs. We feel SFU¹s record of teaching, organizing and performing speaks for itself.

“It could be said that few have taught more pipers and drummers over the past 25 years anywhere in the world.

“At no time was it ‘the plan’ to bring RMM bands into Grade 1 to compete with the SFU Pipe Band. While the organization supported the RMM2 band’s drive to win the Worlds in many ways, at no time did we consider changing the primary goals and direction of the organization to accommodate that success.

“‘RMM1’ is simply not a fit within the organizational structure.

“To comment on only a few specific points that are floating out there:

  • RMM2 was not ready for upgrading as it was not sustainable long-term and would not have survived as a grade one. People who knew the facts within the organization could see this.
  • SFU promoted only three pipers which, in the scheme of things, is negligible. This was planned well before the Worlds 2006 results.
  • The statement that the band faced ‘disbandment’ is absolutely false.The SFU and RMM Pipe Bands are proud of the accomplishment of winning the Grade 2 Worlds. We are grateful to the dedicated leadership and band members, and wish to thank David Hilder, Shaunna Hilder and Andre Tessier for their contributions. We wish all former members the very best in future endeavours.

    “The band is hard at work with its family of bands for 2007, and we look forward to meeting friends at the Games in 2007.”

    – Terry Lee


    What do you think? We always want to hear from our readers, so please use our comment system to provide your thoughts!

    Do you have news? Be sure to send your information to pipes|drums. We can’t report what we don’t know about! Please remember to support the businesses that advertise and make the not-for-profit p|d possible.


  1. I understand SFU’s goal of maintaining bands at various levels and also its desire to be as competitive as possible. What I take issue with is Mr. Lee’s comment: RMM2 was not ready for upgrading as it was not sustainable long-term and would not have survived as a grade one.” It is not RMM2’s decision — or SFU’s

  2. If you look at the archive section of piper and drummer you will see that the B.C.P.A. promoted the RMM2 band in September and the R.S.P.B.A. folowed through with that request in October”. Mr. Roberts is correct in what he has mentioned. If we were talking about golfers who cheated re their true handicap

  3. Perhaps the solution to this problem lies not with the BCPA’s rules but rather with the PPBSO’s rules for eligibility. Where the society looks to the abilities of the individual members to determine whether they may compete or not. As found on D-6.3 Grade 2. Minimums for Grade 2 are 6 pipers, 2 side drummers, 1 bass. Grade 2 pipe bands may add a higher grade piper as their Pipe Major only, in addition to the minimum 6 other pipers, provided that he or she is registered as their piping instructor. Grade 2 pipe bands may add a higher grade drummer as their lead drummer only, in addition to the minimum 2 other side drummers, providing that he or she is registered as their drumming instructor. [1995, 2001 AGMs] The BCPA currently has a similar stipulation only for Juvenile bands. While I’m certain the BCPA looks to the individual’s talent to determine grading, failing to put a hard limit to the number of higher calibre players to a band leaves the association open to challenges it now faces with SFU. If a similar rule to the PPBSO’s were adopted it would put the responsiblity back the individual groups to ensure they are fielding a band appropriate to the grade level. As a result a proper feeder band would be better maintained. This may also encourage more members to strive to play at the higher level.

  4. Jeff, I thinking you are confusing solo grading and band grading as being linked in some way. Neither the PPBSO, nor the BCPA assesses solo grades (in an official sense), when determining band grades. When the PPBSO rules mention players of a higher level (playing instructors), they are referring to players who are also registered as members of a higher level Band. What they are saying here, is that a Grade 1 Band member can act as a Pipe Major of a Grade 2 Band; the same is true for the Lead Drummer. Hypothetically, you could have a pipe corps of 10, with 5 professional-level players, and 5 beginners – and the overall band COULD be assessed as being a Grade 5 Band. This is, of course, an unlikely scenario. You could, quite reasonably, have a Grade 2 band where many, if not all of the players were Grade 1 or Professional solo players – or who have Grade 1 Band experience.

  5. The RMM 2 (grade 1) players should just form their own grade 1 band. They are good enough and have proved it. It’s time for another grade 1 Canadian band out of BC with all the plethora of pro/grade 1 players. Why not a grade 1 Maple Ridge? or new grade 1 band. I’m sure there is enough support and confidence to succeed. David Hilder is awesome!

  6. The Internet allows all of us to gather a wealth of information about pipe band organizations and their members. It has provided my son with the opportunity to learn about some of the great musicians in the pipe band world and hear and see them perform. I am glad that the SFU organization provided a statement regarding the RMM2 band so that all of us know the facts. When young players read information on the Internet they begin to form opinions about groups and individuals that may or may not be based in fact. It is important to me that the young people learning the art form have a chance to learn about the bands from information based on fact and evaluate the bands based on their musicianship. I would encourage all of us to support the people and groups who have spent a great deal of time refining their craft. Their efforts and achievements provide us with successful models to learn from and aspire towards. Although my knowledge about the SFU organization is limited, it seems obvious to me that the people running the group must have spent thousands of hours building it into the world-class organization that it is. I am sure it must take both extraordinary talent and an enormous work ethic to accomplish what the SFU organization has achieved. Bravo to the entire SFU organization and I hope that your organization will always be there for the all of us to learn from and enjoy musically. Best Wishes, Rob Gardner “St. Andrew’s Society of Winnipeg Pipe Band”



Forgotten Password?