April 10, 2022

Ontario society’s online seminar draws about 100 judges

Nearly 100 piping and drumming adjudicators from around the world attended the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario’s annual judges’ seminar on April 10, 2022, held again online over Zoom.

It was the third time that the organization staged the event digitally, with guest speakers joining from various locations.

The day was organized by the society’s Music Committee, and hosted by the group’s chair, Jim McGillivray.

“We had adjudicator representation from 15 piping and drumming associations from around the world,” McGillivray said. “We enlisted experts renowned for their leadership and competitive success and asked what they would like to see on scoresheets. Our panelists and presenters were forthcoming and candid in their comments. I think it gave adjudicators a new perspective around judging a piping, drumming or ensemble performance.”

The five-hour event was broken into separate piping and drumming sessions and then combined in the afternoon for a discussion on ensemble judging moderated by PPBSO judge and Music Committee member Andrea Boyd. Six-time World Pipe Band Championship-winning pipe-major Terry Lee, winner of more than 100 RSPBA band drumming championships and 16-time World Solo Champion Jim Kilpatrick, and North American champion bass drummer Johnny Rowe led the lively afternoon debate on “What’s In An Ensemble Sheet.”

The morning saw a bass and tenor panel discussion with Stephen McQuillan, Mike Cole, and Andrew Elliott, moderated by PPBSO Music Committee member Kyle Heaney.

PPBSO judge and Music Committee member John Cairns provided an overview of the organization’s piping adjudicator certification process in a session moderated by Jim McGillivray, who thanked those who went before. “This program builds on comprehensive material that has evolved over the course of decades under a succession of leading Ontario adjudicators,” he said.

Cairns and McGillivray stressed the importance of moving the process online and documenting each step in a way that will be both transparent to prospective judges and easily portable to future Music Committee members.

Music Committee member Steven Hill guided a session for drummers called “Promotion to Professional,” with 10-time World Solo and multi-time World Pipe Band Drumming champion Steven McWhirter, City of Dunedin Lead-Drummer Eric MacNeill, and acclaimed teacher and professional drummer Doug Stronach discussed the criteria for promoting solo drummers from amateur to professional.

Later in the morning, “Judging Processes from the Pros” was moderated by Music Committee member Pete Aumonier, with Jack Taylor, Jack Lee, and Terry Lee leading the discussion on best practices for constructing piping adjudication sheets on piobaireachd, light music, and band piping, respectively.

Judges from the British Columbia Pipers Association, Eastern United States Pipe Band Association, Midwest Pipe Band Association, Western United States Pipe Band Association and others attended, as did several from the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association’s panel, though attendance was down from the more than 120 who logged in to the 2021 seminar.

McGillivray added, “New ideas were raised and discussed, old ideas bandied about. Personally speaking, I’ve been judging for more than 40 years and I still came away with new thoughts on how to judge a contest.”

The PPBSO is marking its 75th anniversary this year.



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