Well away! – The organizing committees of the Argyllshire Gathering, Northern Meeting, Scottish Piping Society of London and assorted other events successfully navigated the policies of both the Competing Pipers Association and Solo Piping Judges Association that ask members not to be judged by teachers or judge pupils. There was some hand-wringing by a small minority of judges that such a common-sense approach would be the end of solo piping as we know it . . . but, guess what? Things went smoothly, and, by all accounts, for the first time since the Falkirk Tryst there were no prizes given met with massive eye-rolling, at least over this perceived bias. That’s good for the players, and what’s good for the players is good for piping. Associations around the world need to sweat the details and do all they can to similarly avoid teacher-pupil-judge conflicts with both solo and band contests.
Blooterville! – Every piper or drummer with a Facebook page gets requests from other pipers and drummers they don’t personally know. Over the last 10 years, it’s been a great way to bring the worldwide community together, to hear the craic from other places, and laugh along at the jokes, or enjoy the birthday and new baby pics, even when we really don’t know the players. What is really bad for the community, though, are people setting up fake accounts so they can comment and share publicly in ways they wouldn’t as themselves. For instance, “Paul H.” has friended a few select pipers, but has no personal photos, no profile, no band-mates, no family, doesn’t respond to messages . . . we smell a rat.
Well away! – Let’s finish on a positive note. Overall, 2018 was a great year for piping a drumming. There’s a lot to celebrate, and even more to look forward to. We will continue to ask the hard, even taboo, questions so that we can get answers and evoke positive change. The days of protecting precious fiefdoms are over. We can still be true to and honour our past, while also welcoming and embracing change for the better. Here’s to a great 2019!
Those are our picks for great intros and reckless mistakes from 2018. What are yours? What would you like to see in the list? As always, your thoughts are welcome!