Editor’s note: Over the last 35 years, pipes|drums has tackled myriad previously taboo issues in the piping and drumming world. Rather than sweeping important matters under the carpet, we believe that only by asking questions, debating perceptions and realities, and confronting tough topics will the piping and drumming world progress and improve.
We have always welcomed the fair opinions of our thousands of readers through formal articles and comments, and that stance will continue to be a core tenet of the publication. We are independent, and averse to being influenced by any association or individual. We sell nothing but the subscriptions and advertising that allow us to bring you quality original content.
The opinions that we publish are not necessarily those of pipes|drums. They are presented to stimulate constructive dialog and debate, to ask questions, to seek answers. We are unafraid of any competition or political repercussions. If some can’t handle opinions contrary to their own, or feel that their self-serving interests are threatened, so be it.
We are delighted when readers approach us with editorial ideas and even more when they offer to contribute, and such was the case when veteran pipe band drummer Scott Currie offered and provided us with the following piece, the first of two parts. We hope that it creates pause for thought, constructive dialog and eventual improvements.
As always, your opinions are welcomed.
Opinion: Clean Break – a call for change – Part 1
By Scott Currie
The arrival of the outdoor pipe band season hasn’t come around quickly enough for many, and the great music and good times that it brings will create a convenient short-term distraction from the bigger picture: the world of pipe band competition appears to be disintegrating before our eyes and we’re doing nothing to stop it.
Recent viral controversies have included Grade 1 bands being ignored following a consultation exercise, bands in New Zealand bands being propped-up by an influx of temporarily-registered players from outside the country, and videographers being blamed for falling attendance at competitions. These instances are symptomatic of much broader problems influencing perception that the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association seems to be either completely oblivious to or simply doesn’t care about them. Either way, we’re on a path that will not end well for competing pipe bands as we know it, and another 12 weeks of beer tents won’t defer what the future will inevitably deliver in Scotland, as it has elsewhere in the pipe band world.
There’s seldom a day that has passed in the last 18 months where I haven’t spoken with a piper or drummer who no longer has a good word left to say about the RSPBA. Players feel badly let down by a system that no longer works for them and only appears interested in take-take-taking the fruits of their labour of love for piping and drumming.
“The red herring doing the rounds is that the absence of a method of capping player numbers
is responsible for bands going to the wall, but there’s a stronger case to show
that it’s players becoming disillusioned with competitive performance in
their droves that is contributing to the decline.”
Some might call it exploitation. It’s sad, but it’s true. And that sentiment is shared all around the world at every level. The red herring doing the rounds is that the absence of a method of capping player numbers is responsible for bands going to the wall, but there’s a stronger case to show that it’s players becoming disillusioned with competitive performance in their droves that is contributing to the decline. Look around you, we can all name at least a handful of pipers and drummers who we know could and should still be playing, but have had enough and just don’t want to anymore.