MWPBA adopts audio judging and other progressive measures
At the MWPBA’s annual general meeting on November 4th, some 65 members, present in-person and online, passed several five substantial motions and announced the addition of a new competition and possibly seeing the return of a dormant event.
The most substantial move is the adoption of “audio adjudication” after a successful trial period using a voice recordings system in the 2023 season.
Members of the MWPBA met with the Head of the Adjudicators with Drum Corps International in nearby Indianapolis. They shared information about the “Competition Suite” cloud-based system DCI uses, and in 2024, judges will each have their own recording device for their comments and recordings. The performance will be uploaded to a secure website when the event is completed.
“Each band will have their own password to listen to the comments and recordings,” Sim said. “There will be a short, written recap for each band from each adjudicator. No placings will be put on the sheets. There will be a Master Sheet for the adjudicator to record the placings that will then be downloaded for the overall result.”
Immediately after results are announced, every band can access “a complete recap” of the event. The MWPBA membership agreed to a band entry fee going from US$80 to $95 for each competition, and training on the new system will take place at the MWPBA Adjudicators’ Seminar in the spring, he said.
While other major piping and drumming organizations have tested audio adjudication systems, the MWPBA appears to be the first to use such a system full-time.
The association’s membership also approved an approach designed to help Highland games financially and provide a better show. Travel money allotted to bands will be eliminated, but each games will agree to provide a cash prize for fourth place at all contests, thus saving each event money and complexity.
New quartet competitions will be offered as part of morning events typically reserved only for solo competitions. Quartets will be permitted to compete in a grade above their band’s assigned grade. “Hopefully, this will improve the morning show for spectators and make a fun and interesting contest for the membership,” Sim added.
The organization is also expanding its education and teaching offerings for members, starting by surveying them to understand preferences.
“The concept is that the association would pay for the travel of a top pipe-major and leading-drummer to come into a geographic area and then the bands in that area would pay the daily fees for the instruction for the day with their band,” Sim reported. “If the interest is there, this will be adopted in the spring of 2024.”
The MWPBA will also be holding free monthly online workshops for its members. Various topics will be covered, with the first scheduled in January for tenor drummers, followed by a session for Grade 4 solo pipers to assist with the organization’s new two-parted Strathspey & Reel event for the grade.
The association’s successful scholarship program will expand to include amateur Grades 1-4 for those younger than 18, and the number of participants is expected to double, scholarships for online instruction from instructors outside of the MWPBA geography.
The organization will also reportedly add a new competition in July and possibly welcome back another.
“It looks to be a busy year in the Midwest United States,” Sim concluded.