Published: March 12, 2021

Eller and Stronach providing an unforgettable experience for PPBSO branch

Ken Eller [Photo pipes|drums]
As part of its stated goal to diversify offerings for its members in the wake of the continuing pandemic in North America, the Niagara-Hamilton branch of the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario has enlisted Ken Eller and Doug Stronach to conduct a free “Mastering Music Memorization” workshop.

With 100 already signed up, the organization has decided not to accept any further registrations.

Both Eller and Stronach are long-time members and leaders in Ontario, and have taught extensively in their piping and drumming careers.

Eller, the former Grade 1 Clan MacFarlane pipe-major, said that he was approached in January for ideas.

“There was no need to throw our hat into the ring for more online contests,” he said. “That is being done by every association, so there’s no need to compete with them. More importantly, the concept of ‘competition’ caters to a very low percentage of pipers and drummers. I recommended something that is more global in nature – perhaps educational or entertainment.”

He came up with the concept of a session on memorization techniques, “a most serious and compulsory part of our instructional process, where tutors concentrate on notes, embellishments and the student is left to fend for themselves on how they memorize tunes. Very few have had a course on ‘How to Memorize Effectively,’ and there is very little in the way of a structured approach.

As an educator, and former competitor, I find this topic at the root of good learning . . . and pipe band progress. – Ken Eller

He and Stronach, who has a long history of snare drumming and lead-drummer roles with Grade 1 bands like Vale of Atholl, the Toronto Police and Simon Fraser University, are drawing on their decades building their own techniques for learning and retaining music.

Doug Stronach [Photo pipes|drums]
“As an educator, and former competitor, I find this topic at the root of good learning . . . and pipe band progress,” Eller continued.

The workshop is aimed at all levels of players of any age.

“How many times around a band table is the progress inhibited by players who take weeks to put a tune in their head? I recognize it in every single band workshop, and it brought me to the realization that this is a core issue to work on. So, as an educator first, this is a top priority at the moment.”

The online workshop is on the morning of March 20th. According to Eller, the branch has made it free to provide more value for their membership dues. He sees the ranch benefitting from non-members joining “as a form of goodwill from the branch.”

The PPBSO is also planning to hold an online Summer School July 5-9, but has said that it will be fee-based, with a 20% discount for paid-up members. It also said that it will announce a series of online solo competitions run by the organization in the wake of an outdoor season that’s predicted to be an almost complete write-off. The Cobourg Highland Games, normally held in Cobourg, Ontario, in June, hope to stage its event in September if conditions permit.

Disclosure: Stronach is co-owner of CDS Custom Drum Sound Inc., an advertiser with pipes|drums.

 


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