The UK’s Solo Piping Judges Association is taking a decidedly different and welcomed approach to its first annual seminar for members: it has invited the president of the Competing Pipers Association to present on behalf of competitors.
The SPJA’s meeting in Edinburgh on November 18th of this year will feature an agenda item with Glenn Brown, CPA president.
“We feel that there should be a continuum between the somewhat less known CPA Supplementary List of Judges and our own,” SPJA Chair Colin MacLellan said. “That List contains the names of many pipers who have a top-class pedigree and the potential to become first-rate judges in the near future. The SPJA would like to move forward, perhaps cautiously at the moment, into different areas that thus far have been addressed only by the Piobaireachd Society in the set tune seminars. Historically, we have not really thus far done much in the areas of assessment and training and we would like to work together as a group so that everyone can gain the knowledge and learning which can be the result of these sessions.”
The organization is also continuing exploratory discussions and planning for a potential accreditation process for future, and maybe even existing, members. A committee from the group has held conversations with judges and administrators with associations around the world about best practices and both good and bad accreditation processes and experiences.
According to a statement from the SPJA, “The Committee feels that some sort of formal accreditation qualification should be discussed for new judges joining the Judges List, although over-formality is seen as perhaps unnecessary. A potential new qualification will include aspects of practical playing, knowledge, and theoretical competency, which will be considered a prerequisite needed before actual application is made to be considered for the Judges List. The Committee would like to hold a full open discussion with all judges on the subject at the November AGM.”
The vast majority of the world’s piping and drumming associations implemented criteria, application, training and accreditation programs for their judges. The UK’s solo piping scene remains judged by those who have been accepted to benches strictly by reputation, and competition success or even participation is not a requirement.
The SPJA also unveiled a new website, which includes its code of conduct. The code outlines policies against judging pupils at the three major UK gatherings, whenever possible at other events, and family members at any time.
On the site, SPJA member judges can access a page to provide comments directly and confidentially on “outstanding or otherwise performances,” the information going directly to the head of the CPA to “greatly aid the CPA grading process by way of informed feedback from current judges.”