October 31, 2006

RSPBA reviewing MAP program

The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association (RSPBA), as it had promised, is reviewing the Musical Appreciation & Presentation (MAP) system that the association introduced to Grade 4 and Novice Juvenile bands at Major Championships in 2006.

The organization in late-September distributed an extensive survey to competitors, judges, and administrators, with a core objective of receiving feedback on the success and failure of the program. The MAP system called for bands to compete with a selection from 14 prescribed marches. With standard recommended settings, the thinking is that bands will concentrate more on fundamentals and ensemble, thus fostering pipe band skills.

MAP contests were assessed by only two judges, and adjudicators went through a program to orient them to judging in an ensemble fashion, rather than strictly on piping or drumming.

“The RSPBA had made a commitment when the MAP format was introduced that the experience of the first year would be evaluated,” said an RSPBA insider, requesting anonymity. “The questionnaire was issued during the last week of September. The objective is to get views from the bands, the adjudicators and the administrators. The latter are important also as any changes to the playing time requirements would have implications for the organization of the contests. It will also be useful to assess whether there have been any issues arising from the compiling of the results.”

The RSPBA will gather responses and collate information for consideration by the RSPBA’s Music Board sub-committee responsible for competition format, which will then work with the Adjudicators’ Panel to analyze responses.

The source stated that the MAP program will continue in 2007, and the survey will determine whether changes are to be made. One question in the survey states, “The RSPBA is committed to continue the MAP format for Grade 4 and Novice Juvenile bands. What changes, if any, should be made?”

The primary complaint from bands is that the system limits their performance to less than two minutes. There is a reportedly a chance that requirements will be raised so that bands have to play three or four of the two-parted tunes. Changes to the tune-list may also occur.

“It was made clear when MAP was introduced that any significant improvement in the performance of bands would be unlikely to be achieved in one year,” the insider said. “I doubt that it would be scrapped after one year. I hope the results of the survey will be disseminated widely. I think the Music Board and the National Council will appreciate the importance of justifying the decisions reached.”

Supporters of the MAP program feel that it will allow bands to play better together and that good fundamentals will be rewarded. Some feel that the system puts bands on a more level competition field.

Some critics of the MAP program also contended that it was developed mainly as a means to reduce the number of judges needed for the lower grades and to expedite the competitions. Many also suggested that the MAP “set tunes” limited a band’s creativity and stifled variety.


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