Editor’s note: the publication yesterday of Scott Currie’s opinion piece received strong interest and gained significant readership on pipes|drums. As with most articles that are constructively critical of piping and drumming associations, many active players appear reluctant to show their attributed approval publicly.
This might be considered ironic when the articles they’re loathe to “Like” on social media often draw attention to the fear of political reprisal and bullying that can come with being seen as “against” the status quo.
But rocking the piping and drumming boat is redundant, since, to many or even the strong majority, the seas are already perpetually turbulent.
So we beat on against the current. By presenting a variety of opinions, constructive discussion will occur. With reasonable and fair dialog, asking reasonable and fair questions, problems are identified, possible solutions are tabled, and we all eventually improve.
Part 2 is a case in point. Rather than only rail against the problems, Scott Currie tables potential solutions.
As always, your own opinions are welcomed, and we hope that you make your voice heard through our comments system.
Clean Break – a call for change – Part 2
By Scott Currie
It was recently revealed that the RSPBA appeared to turn against enthusiasts who volunteer their own time and make investments at their own expense to travel the country to support the pipe band movement and portray it in a positive manner to the world through the medium of social media live-streaming.
There are perceived rights and wrongs to live-streaming in the pipe band world, but regardless of the wrongs, the majority of players and the public seem to prefer the rights. Notwithstanding this, the seemingly regressive approach of the RSPBA towards social media and live-streaming in recent years has spawned an upsurge in highly popular enthusiast channels, which have filled that void to provide a service that is followed by thousands globally. Through their efforts, they connect people with the piping world and help build the closeness of the community that follows it.
It is easy to try to scapegoat live-streamers and YouTubers (of which the RSPBA is one) for diminishing attendance at pipe band competitions, but the truth is this has been happening for significantly longer than these outlets have been operating. The decision to clamp down on one in particular appeared to be inexplicably mean- spirited, and has only created more unnecessary discontent and resentment in the pipe band community. Within a matter of days, the situation was reversed because it was one that the RSPBA had no locus to authorize and they were apparently powerless to prevent. It raises the question of why yet another misguided public relations disaster was allowed to happen to begin with.
The one thing the RSPBA has been exceptionally good at accomplishing in recent times is making people unhappy and pushing people away from piping and drumming. I don’t believe that is their intent or that the RSPBA is full of bad people. It’s not.
But there are good, service-driven people working in an apparently protectionist institution whose management style and decision-making create unintended consequences that almost always have a detrimental effect upon the players. Why is it that everything they do seems to turn sour and results in division and hostility? One thing is certain, there is a huge fissure between the organization and its members, and the path it is on is not a sustainable one.
How long do we have before the Scottish pipe band competition scene collapses?
I don’t know, but I don’t believe it can survive on its current path beyond the next three to five years.
How long do we have before the Scottish pipe band competition scene collapses? I don’t know, but I don’t believe it can survive on its current path beyond the next three to five years. In my view, a radical change to the flawed decision-making, constant disputes and apparently never-ending upheaval is necessary in order for competitive pipe band activity as we know it regenerate and re-establish a sustainable outlook for growth. We have some highly-talented leaders in pipe bands, as well as many incredible business, analytical, logistical, legal and financial minds who can turn this around, but the organization must be prepared to bring them on board and implement change in a manner that carries the players with them. The “them and us” days need to be consigned to history and never revisited.