August 31, 2000

What Really Happened: LA Scots Pipe Major Clarifies Situation

Scott MacDonald, Pipe Major of the Los Angeles Scots Pipe Band, has brought factual clarity to an incident with the band at the qualifying round of the World Pipe Band Championship at Glasgow Green on August 12.

It had been incorrectly rumoured on the day and on the Internet that LA Scots were disqualified for a rules infraction at the starting line at the contest.

According to MacDonald: “As the band reached the line, one of our front rank pipers noticed that the piper next to him had a drone top dangling down. At this point we were at ease and waiting for the judges. The piper re-attached his tenor drone and checked his drones. He then proceeded to put his pipes back down with the rest of us. This whole incident took about 10 seconds, but I along with the rest of the band did not know what the rule is and didn’t think there was a problem because we had not even put our pipes up to start yet. Then the judges arrived, we put our pipes up and off we went.”

When did the band become aware that an impropriety may have occurred?

MacDonald continues: “I was told that there were protests lodged from a few bands. Again, not knowing the rule I went to the officials and talked to them about what happened. Obviously there was confusion and at the end we were not disqualified, but it sure didn’t help.”

Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association rules state that bands must follow military-style decorum at the starting line or risk being disqualified. This comprises certain commands from the Pipe Major, and the band following a physical drill of putting pipes and drums in the “pipes down,” “at ease,” “ready,” “get ready” format.

The rule has been criticized by many as being a holdover from another era and out of touch with today’s focus on musicality.

“It was an unfortunate mistake on our part and we will get over it. The spirits of the band are good and the future is bright. We are a young band and we will have many successes in the future and this whole incident will be behind us,” MacDonald concluded.

Said one Scottish pipe band insider: “Rules are rules and they are there in black and white for all to read.”


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