May 11, 2020

Peel Regional Police take command with online solo contest “season”

With the competition season cancelled and piping and drumming associations so far not organizing replacement contests, ad hoc grassroots online competitions are emerging. The latest is an entire “season” of solo contests run by the Peel Regional Police Pipe Band organization of Brampton, Ontario.

“Due to this unprecedented situation that we find ourselves in because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Peel Regional Police Pipe Band has decided to embark on something new,” the band said in a statement. “With hopes of keeping people motivated to play throughout the summer, we have set up a live contest series for solo pipers and snare, tenor and bass drummers.”

The season will comprise four dates, or “segments,” each focusing on a specific discipline per grade:

  • Saturday, May 30th
  • Saturday, June 27th
  • Saturday, July 25th
  • Saturday, August 22nd

Judges and prizes are not yet known. The events will use amateur and professional gradings and requirements laid out by the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario. North American competitions are run using a unified grading system, while events in the UK, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa are run with broader categories, often predicated on age.

There will be 1 piping judge, 1 snare judge and 1 bass tenor judge and we plan to run all of the contests concurrently.

Contestants can enter for all four events for CAD$64, with entries accepted from anywhere, but with the proviso that the events are in the daytime during eastern daylight time. The online platform for the events will be Microsoft Teams.

“The competitor will sign in and wait in what they call the lobby where they can play away and get ready without interfering with anyone else,” said John Cairns, pipe-major of the Grade 2 Peel Regional Police Pipe Band. “Then, when it is their turn to compete, we will let them into the meeting, which is where the judge will be waiting. At that time, they will give the judge their tune, do some last-minute tuning and then compete live, so no ‘do-overs.’ We wanted to try and create an online contest that was as close to the real live thing as possible.”

He said that each competitor will have “a preliminary session to make sure their IT requirements are okay and we plan at that time to help anyone determine the appropriate grade level if they don’t have one.”

The organizers warned that “Prize-winners may be asked to provide verification of the grade that they currently play in with their home association.” There will be one judge for each event.

“We wanted to make it as easy as we can for everyone to compete, so it’s your own choice of tune for every grade, and Highland dress is optional,” Cairns added. “We felt that if we offer a contest each month, that the pipers and drummers who have registered will have an incentive to keep practicing, which in a nutshell is our main goal.”

Cairns said that they are investigating how to make the events available to non-competitors for free via live-stream.

Last week, ran a solo piping and drumming competition online, but with video performances uploaded for assessment by a large group of judges.



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