Oban and Aviemore

There’s a bit of chagrin, as usual, with solo pipers applying to get in to the Argyllshire Gathering (Oban) and the Northern Meeting (Inverness, usually, but this year at Aviemore).

Every year a vetting committee comrpising folks from those events, a few Piobaireachd Society people, and a couple of reps from the Competing Pipers Association get together to consider the applicants and yay or nay their aspriations. No one except the people actually on the committee seems to know how it all works, except for the fact that each piper’s competition success record is considered and, hopefully, someone on the committee has actually heard the person play.

So far there has been more acrimony than usual about the some of the decisions. Andrew Hayes and Michael Grey, the two pipers who had equal points for the prestigious Ontario Champion Supreme award for piobaireachd, and who both have had prizes in the Gold Medals at Oban and Inverness, were rejected for this year’s Gold Medals. No explanation, just an impersonal automated e-mail telling them, in effect, that their realistic Gold Medal aspirations are pretty much over.

When will these events realize that, like the World Pipe Band Championships, they are extraordinary because of their internationalism? Isn’t it time they started to respect “overseas” competition standards? Shouldn’t they seek the unbiased advice of judges in overseas jurisdictions?

On the other hand, like the World’s, these are their events, and they can run them however they please. But they should understand that, with the rapid growth of high-profile, sponsored, big-money events in North America, the statures of the Argyllshire Gathering and Northern Meeting will certainly decline if they continue to disrespect the international pipers who have made the contests the great events that they are today.


Welcome to Blogpipe!

Over the last year, many Piper & Drummer Online readers have suggested that we start a blog. It has been on our long list of things to do . . . until now.

Even though it’s taken this long, I think Blogpipe is still the first of its kind for the piping and drumming world.

My aim with Blogpipe is to complement the approach that the Piper & Drummer magazine and Piper & Drummer Online have always taken: to spark open and objective discussion on piping and drumming matters, to ask questions, and, by listening to answers, make informed decisions.

How will Blogpipe differ from other content on Piper & Drummer Online? Well, the biggest difference will be that it will present more opinions and free-flowing thoughts. It will also offer readers more of an opportunity to contribute their opinions, so that others may consider them, learn from them, and form their own conclusions.

As with most things in the highly-competitive piping and drumming world, a small minority of conspiracy theorists will accuse me of having an ulterior motive. No bother. The truth is that it’s here only to float ideas and evoke intelligent and constructive online conversation.

To be sure, you won’t agree with everything you read on Blogpipe, and sometimes the truth hurts. But Blogpipe will never shy away from the politically sensitive or try to curry favour with anything.

Mark Twain said, “When in doubt, tell the truth,” and that’s a good maxim by which to live. Here, too, you may disagree, and that’s okay.

I invite you to visit often and contribute whenever you read something that sparks your own thoughts. Comments will be considered and the most thoughtful, informed, and fair will be posted. Dissenting views are encouraged and welcomed.

It’s all about open, intelligent communication so that pipers and drummers can simply make better decisions regarding the things to which so many of us so passionately devote so much of our time and energy.

I hope that you enjoy Blogpipe!

Andrew Berthoff