Updated: Hamilton Police hook up with Scottish Lion-78th Frasers
The Scottish Lion-78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe Band has operated for almost 30 years without a formal feeder band until now, after striking a “tentative agreement” with the Hamilton Police Pipe Band organization on a “reciprocal player development program.”
The Grade 2 Hamilton band is led by Pipe-Major Peter Aumonier, while the organization’s Grade 4 and 5 bands are run by Don Forgan. Bill Livingstone will continue to be the pipe-major of the SL78FH, and the two organizations will continue to operate autonomously. A teaching program designed so that pipers and drummers can progress through the grades is likely.
The agreement will not only see players move up to the Grade 1 band, but allow for demotions for those not yet up to the challenge.
“It will also see those players within the SL78th organization who require further development to come and play with the Hamilton Grade 2 band to hone their skills before ultimately returning to the Grade 1 band,” Forgan commented in a release.
“We . . . see this as a plus for piping and drumming in Ontario and expect that such a system will draw more players to the competition side of the arts, benefiting not only our two organizations, but the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario through increased membership and interest in our craft,” Bill Livingstone commented. “I can’t think of a development in pipng and drumming in Ontario in the 38 years I have been involved in it, that presents a better opportunity for improvement of all of the pipe band arts,” he added.
“We did not invite this; the Hamilton Police Pipe Band did. Their mandate does not ever invisage a Grade 1 band. When their folks have come through their program, they will have choices to make. The leadership of HPPB have trust and faith in our band. If I’m now good enough for Grade 1, [where] do I go? The leadership of the HPPB think that we are the best choice for their people. We are completely honoured that they feel that way, and we embrace their enthusiasm. Each group will retain complete autonomy, and the SL78FH will do what it is asked to do, and what it can do, to improve players in the HPPB."
The SL78FH made news by competing at the 2007 World Pipe Band Championships with 30 pipers from a roster of nearly 40. The band finished fourth overall in the Grade 1 contest and won the Best Drum Corps award. “The Frasers have been accused of being a dragnet for piping and drumming musicians. We are not. Those who come to us are volunteers. We do not solicit anyone. If they like us, and what we stand for, they come to us. We have an open-door policy. My idea is to give them the rope. As as a former, lamented member once said, ‘Bill, you give them the rope, and they can climb up it, or they can get hung by it.’ Nothing much changes, except that the player who isn’t quite there will be asked to play in the Hamilton Police Grade 2 band.”
Livingstone stressed that the Grade 2 band will continue with it’s current leadership in place. He added that a “mentoring program” designed to share techniques in tuning, set up, maintenance and musical direction will be set up. At competitions where the two organizations are present the bands will tune up close to each other, with the SL78FH providing assistance as requested, and “more importantly to foster the development of the realtionship.”