I’m not sure if other associations do it, but the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario has traditionally offered occasional solo piping competitions for those 45 and older. (It used to be 50 and older, but that was changed for a reason I can’t remember three or four years ago. Strangely, there aren’t equivalent events for drummers, who always seem to demand equal billing to the pipers.)
I’m not sure what I think of this. On the one hand, I wonder why these players don’t just compete in the grade that matches their skill. If they play to a Grade 2 amateur caliber, then why not play in Grade 2?
On the other hand, I’m also undecided about older competitors competing against little kids, which is what often happens mainly in the lower amateur grades in North America. Part of me thinks that there should be an age limit to events, which I guess suggests that the “45 and Over” (sic) MSR event makes sense.
A major distinction, of course, is that 45+ competitions offer cash for prizes, whereas the amateurs get medals. But the money really isn’t much, and the handful of talented players who enter these events don’t seem to need the money that badly. I guess it pays for a few litres of gas, but the money isn’t by any means increasing commensurately with the price of pe’rol.
I’m still not eligible to play in the category, but I’m certain that I’ll never consider it next year. I’m not sure why I think that way. Why haven’t eligible top-players like Bill Livingstone, Bob Worrall, Jim McGillivray and so on ever entered these events?
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy listening to these players. They almost always have a very good instrument, and a certain maturity to their playing that you don’t hear much in the amateur grades.
I’d love to hear your arguments for and against solo competitions for older pipers, so fire away!