I’ve been thinking again about judging accreditation. Several associations in North America have had sophisticated adjudication examination programs for solo judges for years. I know that Ontario established its system in 1988, and the EUSPBA started its own process around the same time. These and other associations have worked to improve their accreditation programs and the requirements for consideration are stringent.
At all sanctioned events in North America, solo judges need to have formal accreditation. In fact, the 10 organizations that comprise the Alliance of North American Pipe Band Associations collectively agreed that accreditation is a requirement to judge.
There is a unified acceptance that accreditation is good for the competitions, and what’s good for the competitions is good for the competitors. Competitors want to know that they are been assessed by not just a competent former-competitor who has done the business for the required length of time, but by someone who has proven that he or she has the necessary skills to be a good judge.
As John-Angus Smith discussed in his recent 10 Questions With . . . interview, there is no formal accreditation process that solo judges have to go through in the UK. There it’s pretty much a grandfathering tradition. If you’ve won a sack-load of prizes (or have a membership with the Royal Scottish Pipers Society and talk a good piobaireachd), seem to be a good person and are interested and available to commit a day in return for some tea, a sandwich, a chocky-bick, and a few pounds, then you’re eligible to judge. Further, there aren’t even score sheets or even formal feedback to competitors.
So why, then, do North American associations happily invite unaccredited pipers and drummers from the UK to judge their sanctioned events? Doesn’t it contravene agreed policy and undermine the accreditation process? If demonstrating officially that one is not only a good player but a good judge is essential, then why do we give some accomplished players a bye and others not?
Perhaps non-UK associations are still enamored with pipers and drummers with Scottish accents. Or maybe ANAPBA organizations really don’t take accreditation that seriously. But every time an unaccredited “guest” piper or drummer is brought in to judge, doesn’t it contradict 20 years of diligent effort to establish and adhere to the entire examination process?
I ask you.