June 13, 2010


Always appreciating a different perspective on things, I sourced a mini high-definition camera with the thought of making videos hands-free. I connected the camera to a ski-helmet strap and tested it out at the recent Georgetown games. With the association’s okay, I had recorded a few events last year with a hand-held audio device. But I found it difficult to keep a grip of the thing. This was a great solution.

I was assigned to judge ensemble in the Grade 3 and Grade 4 competitions, and was able to get some footage of a few bands, each, as it happens, with interesting medleys. The result is here for your interest.

This is pretty much exactly what a judge would see and hear while assessing a band. I always try to get various perspectives on the bands, and ensure that I’m far enough back to get a comprehensive sense of the overall sound of the band. The contribution of mid-sections/bass-sections (take your pick) is increasingly important, and bands seem to strategically position tenors and bass drums to give the projection from the instruments that they’re hoping for.

The venue for these events is one of the better ones, placed in a natural enclosure that contains the sound nicely. The weather was gie dreich, so the crowds weren’t nearly as large for these events. I believe it was raining fairly hard during Durham’s performance. (By the way, that’s a rendition of “Oowatanite” by the 1980s Canadian rock band, April Wine, that Durham opens its medley with. Many Ontario bands in all grades have been getting very creative over the last three or four years.)

There’s also a clip from the scene at the beertent, right after the Grade 1 winners, Peel Regional Police, came in to play a bit. The Georgetown beertent generally goes well into the night. I think that’s the Rob Roy band playing.

To be honest, I look even more a right prat with the camera strapped to my head (no more, though, than some of the absurd hats that you see some judges wear), partially covered by a glengarry, but it’s the price one pays to deliver constructive new perspectives for the piping and drumming world to, I hope, enjoy. A few people have already said what a great learning tool this could become, so perhaps use of such technology could even be considered for future judging and band feedback. I love that we can be so open-minded.


  1. I really enjoyed these videos Andrew – thanks for making the “less than favourable” fashion statement! As you have already outlined, I can see this type of footage as being useful for future judging seminars/exams in the region.

    More importantly, it certainly begs the question: Who really needs a clipboard in 2010!? Let’s equip our judges with Glen-Cams/microphones! Digital/audio/visual (take your pic… whatever you want to call them!) scoresheets can easily be uploaded to existing servers after a contest for bands to access at their leisure. It only makes for more effective communication/education/feedback (again…take your pic) for a band throughout its performance – its quick and easy to get a point across and a band can see exactly where the judge was standing when certain issues were outlined.

    The technology is there and its cheaper than ever – let’s use it! DCI already does it with microphones – this would be a great start.

    Then again, maybe I just need to finally stop having weird ideas… 🙂

  2. Speaking of score sheets and a recent question about publishing them…I sure would like to read the ensemble comments about the untraditional music in a grade 3 contest…



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