Peel Police going local, sets up partnerships
After a frustrating competition year, the Grade 1 Peel Regional Police Pipe Band of Ontario is taking a new approach to building quality by partnering with the Grade 3 Hamilton Police Pipe Band, also of Ontario, and the Grade 4 North Coast of Cleveland, Ohio, which the bands say is mutually beneficial to all parties.
Peel Police Pipe-Major John Cairns said that the bands will feed players in both directions, as he strives to up his player-to-player quality, which he acknowledged was lacking in 2015.
“Up until two years ago, Peel was having some success, especially in Ontario,” Cairns said. “To better meet the expectations of our sponsor, the band had to significantly increase the number of local players. As there were no players sitting idle to draw upon, the band had to look at bringing in local players that we felt had the potential to play at a Grade 1 level. Those who were brought in worked extremely hard and made some tremendous strides forward, but as is to be expected, the stress and demands of playing at a Grade 1 level resulted in a number of issues that impacted the band’s performance and contest placing.”
He said that the band will accept only players at the beginning of the year who are at a “true Grade 1 standard,” with only local players. Cairns said that if he has vacancies they will attempt to try to fill the remaining spots with Grade 1 players who live close enough to attend any practice or performance, and only if there are still vacancies will the band resort to fly-in players.
The band will welcome any who would like to play with the band, but not allow those not making the grade to try to develop with the Grade 1 band during the season. To develop those potential players, Peel Police will encourage them to join either the Hamilton Police or North Coast.
Peel hopes to gain players progressing from those lower-grade bands as they become good enough and, in return, Peel Police players will assist those bands with tuning and contest preparation. A full-day workshop has already been run for the Hamilton Police organization’s Grade 3 and Grade 4 bands, with more scheduled for the future. They will help with music selection and arrangement, working on maintenance, sound, unison, expression and ensemble.
“As all three of these organizations will standardize how they do things, Peel will benefit by having players come to the band that can maintain and tune their instruments and play stylistically and expressively the same way that is expected in Peel,” Cairns added. “Ideally, once a player has come through this process and improved their abilities to a solid Grade 1 standard, they will only need to contend with learning Peel’s repertoire.
“As far as feeding players to/from Peel, there are no guarantees here. For those players who want to play in Peel, but are not at the standard, we will encourage them to go to either Hamilton or North Coast so they can develop their skills. Additionally, when a player has come through either Hamilton or North Coast and is ready to make the transition to Grade 1, we hope they will come to Peel, but again there are no guarantees.”
Cairns also stressed that it could be years before Peel Police sees any players make the jump from Hamilton Police or North Coast. “We see this as an investment in the band’s future and a way to help promote piping and drumming within these two wonderful organizations.”
Peel Police Leading-Drummer Graham Kirkwood is married to Hamilton Police Grade 3 band Pipe-Major Trish Kirkwood.
The stress on building quality at a local level is in contrast to other bands, such as Dowco Triumph Street, which bolster their ranks with long-distance players, some competing only at the World Pipe Band Championships.