The Oban Times, 15 December, 1928
Pipe Band Contests
3 December, 1928
Sir,–As most pipers read the “Oban Times,” the columns of which invariably contain something of particular interest to admirers of Scottish music, I ventured to ask your valuable space for a few remarks on the subject of pipe band contests.
Judges of these contests must comply with the directions issued to them by the promoters. In my view, these directions are not always satisfactory, and if a judge were to follow them implicitly he would require a shorthand writer at his elbow to make the reports desired on each performance. I consider it is impossible for any judge to mark down everything, and at the same time pay every attention to the performers. The judge should be left free to devote his full attention to the character of the performance, which is undergoing constant changes.
It is also my view that pipers should play alone without drums, and that the drum Judges should also never submit to the present system of judging; a good band of pipers may suffer a severe loss of points through their drummers, and vice versa. Committees should bear in mind that it is a pipe and not drum band contest. Drummers should be encouraged by providing separate prizes for their performances. Judges should also never submit to the foibles of committees who insist on enclosing them in canvas during solo competitions, for a judge should not be deprived of the aid of any of his natural senses, as they are all needed to do justice to the performers. If a judge cannot be trusted in the open, there is very little hope of him in blinkers!
During the past season I attended several leading pipe band contests and noted the procedure and the results. Of all these, I have no hesitation in saying that the Alloa championship was the best judged, and I should like to tender those responsible my congratulations on their sound judgment.
Might I suggest that the leading piping societies should meet and consider as to framing rules for the guidance of promoters of pipe band contests throughout the country.
The views of your readers would be much appreciated by many promoters whose sole aim is to encourage piping generally, and for whose enthusiasm in the cause all good Scotsmen are grateful.–I am, etc.,