May 07, 2008


One medley for babies?Would it make sense to standardize competition rules worldwide at least at the top levels? Every year since the World Pipe Band Championships made the Grade 1 Final playing requirement submit two MSRs and one medley, there has been some hue and cry over the disparity between requirements leading up to the contest, with some alleging that some non-RSPBA bands have an advantage.

The RSPBA requires that bands submit two selections at all of its Grade 1 medley competitions. The Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario has the same rule. On the other hand, the British Columbia Pipers Association and other organizations call for Grade 1 bands to put in only one medley throughout their season.

The allegation by some is that bands that have only one selection to work on all summer enter the World’s with an edge.

I’m not sure what I think on the matter, but I do know that every association’s rules for solo competitions get progressively more stringent through the grades. In the Professional, or Open, grade, most associations require solo pipers to submit four of everything. Similarly, rules for bands get more and more difficult going up the grades, and it would seem logical to continue that increasing level of difficulty right through to the premier grade.

It makes sense to me that Grade 1 bands should have to prepare at least two MSRs and two medleys. In fact, in these days of most Grade 1 bands needing to have two hours of concert material at their fingertips, one would think that two of each is no bother at all.

But, then again, it also makes some sense that associations should follow the requirements set out by the RSPBA at the World’s, and allow their bands to hone their very best selection in the event that they need it on the big day.

Perhaps the solution is for the RSPBA to increase the requirement of the Grade 1 Final to two medleys. There are several advantages to this I think: more variety for the crowd; more variety year-to-year on the DVD and CD; more drama and excitement for the audience.

Sure, it’s more work and pressure for the bands (or at least as much when bands pre-1972 had to submit three MSRs) but, really, isn’t that what the Grade 1 Final all about?




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