Big thank you from

Interesting plans come from the Music Board  

Pipe Bands by Mervyn McConnell

THE sub-committee of adjudicators within the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association debated a number of interesting issues recently.

This group is designed as a forum for adjudicators to present their concerns and recommendations to the Music Board.

One of the topics discussed was about the time it takes for judges to actually get round and properly assess larger bands. Pipe sections in Grade 1 have swollen to as many as 22 players in recent years.

One Canadian Grade 1 band reportedly has 32 pipers and 15 side drummers attending practices. Enough to make a complete second band.

One of the suggestions coming from this committee is that bands be restricted to a maximum number of 18 pipers and 6 side drummers for Grade 1 and Grade 2 bands.

Of course this proposal - if it is put forward - will have to be put to the vote at the Annual General Meeting in March 2003. ..

A possible proposal from the music board, which held their meeting in November, is that the 2004 Grade 1 world pipe band championships be held indoors.

This will now go to all the branches for discussion and if accepted be put to a vote at the AGM either in 2003 or 2004.

The world championships have been held every year since 1947, and have always been held outside. Conditions at championships with our adverse weather have come under increased criticism over the past years.

At the European Pipe Band Championships held in Ormeau Park, Belfast last June, the Grade 1 competition was halted for 30 minutes, the first time in pipe band history, until the heavy rain stopped.

If it is felt that the weather contributes to the standard of playing in a competition then not only the Grade 1 bands but also all the Grades should be given the same chance of playing indoors.

Given the size of the entries, especially at the world championships, it would be nearly impossible to get a stadium big enough to stage the event.

The only indoor full bands competition to be held in the British Isles is the one at Banbridge each year, organised by the Co. Down section.

This event caters for about 40 bands and Grade 1 bands have never taken part. Most people would feel that pipes and drums are an outdoor instrument. We await to see what happens.

The Belvoir drum majors classes are now under the new instruction of 16-year-old Alicia Dickson from Dromara.

Alicia has featured in the top places most of last season, and was taught by Sara Greer who was the class instructor until recently. Sara has now stepped down due to other commitments.

The class has 16 learners with the youngest a two-year boy called Lex Walker. Lex comes from a family with a long history of drum majoring and could be a champion in the making.

There will be a chance to see him and the rest of the class when their annual presentation of certificates and display takes place on Friday 28 February 2003 in Belvoir Parish Church Hall.

Ulster Star