February 08, 2018

RSPBA nixes scoresheets at World Solo Drumming

The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association has decided that scoresheets / crit sheets will not be provided to competitors in the final and semi-final rounds of the World Solo Drumming Championship.

According to a source within the organization, the decision was made in response to feedback from competitors in a questionnaire on how to improve the event.

“Finalists wanted more listening from adjudicators and less audit style adjudication,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “[It’s] more in line with the big solo piping events.”

The no-scoresheets approach applies only to the final and semi-final rounds and not the heats, where written feedback will continue to be provided.

At publication time, RSPBA Chief Executive Ian Embelton had not responded to a request for more details.

The organization has also implemented a new system for the competition whereby competitors will have to compete in preliminary competitions in March and April at four branch contests. The system does away with the previous pre-qualifying system based on the previous year’s World Solo Championships results.

With the World Solo Drumming attracting competitors from far outside of Great Britain and Ireland, the qualifying system will potentially put them at a disadvantage, unless they make a second trip to the UK in the next few months to compete in one of the scheduled qualifying rounds.

“I don’t mind the new format,” said one long-time competitor in the adult competition, also speaking on condition that his name not be used. “It’s being progressive, which is good.”

The feedback and changes were reportedly coordinated by Grade 1 Police Scotland Fife Lead-Drummer Mick O’Neill, who is a member of the RSPBA’s Music Board, and Paul Turner of the Adjudicators Panel Management Board, and then approved by the Music Board, the APMB and the RSPBA’s Board of Directors.

“In theory, these changes make sense, and progression – or at least trying new things – is a positive, in my opinion,” said another veteran competitor in the adult snare event. “The timing of the announcement, relative to the events that will act as qualifiers, is a bit puzzling. It certainly doesn’t leave much room to make arrangements – time to practice with a piper, to make sure the piper has room in their calendar, and can be there to accompany, isn’t as easy as some might think. I firmly believe that, at the very least, the previous year’s winner, deserves a spot right through to the final. They’ve earned a spot to defend their title.

“Removing score sheets only makes sense if you’re going to have a panel discussion for the final result of each contest – which is actually how solo piping contests work. It appeared that most judges in the 2017 finals took notes, anyway. Not sure that removing the score sheets helped with the ‘just listening’ aspect of things. No score sheets in the semi-finals – I completely disagree with this.”

Scottish solo piping events traditionally do not provide scoresheets to competitors, the exception being a few select events sponsored by the Competing Pipers Association and CLASP amateur events run by the National Piping Centre. Throughout the rest of the world, scoresheets are standard for all solo and pipe band competitions, and the Scottish solo scene continually debates whether a more formal and standard feedback and accountability system of judging should be implemented.

The Adult World Solo Drumming Championship has been won eight times so far by Steven McWhirter, lead-drummer of Grade 1 Inveraray & District. McWhirter has won the event for a record seven straight years.

+ McWhirter wins eighth World Solo Drumming Championship

The 2018 World Solo Drumming Championship will be held on October 20th at Glasgow Caledonian University in Glasgow.





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