November 17, 2020

PPBSO Toronto Branch creates virtual ‘in real life’ solo competitions

Trying to create as much of an in-person experience as possible, the Toronto Branch of the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario has put together an online solo contest format for its annual Knockout Competition that brings competitors, audience, organizers and judges together.

The branch has been working to stage timed live solo events that call for competitors to have only one shot at a performance, by having players record a “proctored” video in a single take.

“This gives them the sense of playing in front of a live audience and having only one shot, but still gives them the better sound quality of a video and no worries about Internet speed or glitches,” said organizer Ellen Mole. “The videos are then judged in order, again only one shot for the judge. Then we compile all the videos with player introductions and announce the results.”

Dylan Whittemore competing in the November 14th second round of the 2020 PPBSO Toronto Branch Professional Knockout.

The branch offers each competition for viewing at a designated date and time on YouTube, with audience members paying $5 per event – about half the amount they’d pay to attend a branch competition in-person. Enthusiasts can purchase a season pass for access to all competitions for $15.

“We’ve just finished our second event on November 14th and it went well; both competitors and audience members seem to enjoy it,” Mole added.

The next PPBSO Toronto Branch solo competition events are on January 16th, February 20th and the Knockout Finals on March 27th.

Most online solo competitions have gone with a pre-recorded video format, each contestant uploading performances to YouTube or another platform and judges assessing performances over several days at their leisure.

Several contests have used the recorded video format, requiring contestants to upload performances in a defined period of time after specific tunes are assigned.

Other events have experimented with performances and judging via live streamed video, but have faced significant discrepancies with Internet connections, quality of microphones and speakers, and other variants.



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