May 31, 2020

Ontario association announces amateur competitions by uploaded video

The Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario has announced an amateur solo competition in which pipers and drummers will be able to share performance videos recorded on YouTube, adhering to all of the organization’s playing and Highland dress requirements.

Videos will be judged over the weekend of June 20, and the deadline for submitting video performances will be by end of day EDT June 14. Paid-up PPBSO members get to participate at no cost, while others will have to pay a $10 entry fee.

Membership to the organization is $45, and the organization will maintain that rate for anyone joining or renewing in 2020. Normally, renewals increase by $5 per month after January 15 each year, topping out at $90.40 in July.

The organization said that more contests are planned for July and August, with details to be announced later.

When asked why his organization chose recorded video over live online performances, PPBSO President Chris Buchanan said, “There are a few reasons that we went with video submissions. The first is that we want to reduce the stress on everyone involved by removing the technical challenges that people might encounter with a live stream – Internet connectivity issues, sound issues, etc. – and felt that removing those stress points would enhance the competitive experience. The second is one of flexibility. By using video submissions, not everyone has to be in the same place at the same time. This allows for easier scheduling for both the competitors and the judges. Finally, we want to allow for an enhanced adjudication experience. Adjudicators can choose to review key performances if needed or desired. Judging an online contest comes with a whole host of new challenges, so giving the adjudicators the opportunity to review a submission helps mitigate some of the risks involved. After the first competition has been completed, we’ll be able to review with stakeholders what worked and what didn’t, which will allow us to fine-tune the offering to our members. If it turns out that there’s a preference for live-streaming, we can look at that for the future.

Earlier in May, the Peel Regional Police Pipe Band, members of the PPBSO, announced a “season” of solo piping and drumming events run by live-streamed video, the first of which took place on May 30 with more than 140 entries.

The PPBSO was recently criticized by world-famous piper Bill Livingstone, who commented on a pipes|drums editorial of May 29: “Your comments bring into bold relief the complete failure of the Pipers and Pipe Band Society of Ontario to respond with imagination to the present situation. I and others have railed long and loud against the lack of inspiration and leadership of the PPBSO in terms, for example, of teaching programs for pipers and drummers. This is a sharp reminder of how rooted to their stools the leadership remains. Fergawds sake . . . Peel Police Pipe Band can bring the energy and imagination necessary to stage an online competition with 140 participants and the once-vaunted and leading organization, the PPBSO cannot? Big changes should be afoot.”

In response to Livingstone’s comments, Buchanan said, “I would respectfully disagree with his assessment. As a member-based provincial organization with branches across Ontario, any planning requires due diligence to ensure that we’re acting in the interests of all of our members and managing the affairs and funds of the Society appropriately. I would also say that the PPBSO has had a significant administrative undertaking in the past six weeks as we’ve had to wrap up the books and paperwork for a games season that didn’t happen, and to manage a budget with a significant revenue shortfall. I’m pleased and excited with what the Board and the Music Committee have put together here through a lot of time and hard work. I’m looking forward to the new program offerings that we have in store.”

Several piping and drumming associations around the world have announced protocols and policies to adapt to the COVID-19 situation, which has seen the cancellation of competitions globally.

The organization also announced an educational webinar initiative beginning with PPBSO Music Committee member speaking with Finlay MacDonald, recently appointed Director of Piping at the National Piping Centre and Artistic Director of Piping Live! Festival. Boyd was an employee of the Piping Centre for several years in the 2000s.



Opinion: Virtual competition is real, and it’s here to stay
May 29, 2020

Associations adapting to coronavirus conditions
May 18, 2020

Peel Regional Police take command with online solo contest “season”
May 11, 2020





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