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Beer Tent The general discussion forum, and the place to start a new "beer-tent-like" Piping Related discussion...

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Old 06-04-2019, 12:40 AM   #1
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Default The end of the world as we know it...really?

About 6 years ago I came back to world of pipes and drums after a long, long hiatus. Needless to say, I'd been out of touch for a good long while, though over the years I would try to attend a games or festival, and watch the Worlds online.

Recently, I've been seeing a lot of flurry online about the imminent demise of (competition) piping & drumming, especially regarding the Worlds and the RCPBA. pipes|drums has had a number of editorials to this effect over the last few months, and just a few days ago Big Rab picked up on Scott Currie's editorial for the podcast.

If one can believe what one reads online, then there are some serious issues currently with the structure and function of the RCPBA, and thus the Worlds, and we have seen the recent end of several Grade 1 bands, especially in North America.

But how much does this affect the global piping and drumming community at the local levels? Most of us don't play in a Grade 1 band, and I would guess that for most outwith the UK & Eire, just attending the Worlds is a life dream, much less competing in the top grades. Seems to me on a local level, things are thriving.

I live in medium-sized city in the US Midwest, and there 3 pipe bands here. Go down the road a couple of hours, and there are 7 bands in a greater metropolitan area. There are three other civilian bands across my state, and a few service bands. There's even some Highland dancing schools in the region. Again, this is nowhere near the center of the piping world, and yet we seem to be doing just fine.

It is greatly worrying to see all this in the press about the "end of it all," and yet, I can't help but think for most of us rank & file players, there's naught to worry about.

What say you? How are things in your corner of the world? Not calling for action here, or a solution to the Big Issues, just wondering how these affect your piping & drumming community, day-to-day. Having a grand time myself, hope you are too.
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Old 06-04-2019, 04:21 AM   #2
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Default Re: The end of the world as we know it...really?

I think we're in a paradoxical situation where there are more pipers and drummers than ever before, and the average quality has never been higher. At the same time, the traditional competition scene that we have known is struggling to survive.

I think most of these changes are driven by external factors to the piping world, and I don't think a lot of the proposed solutions actually make a difference. There has been a global seventy-year boom in piping and drumming, and I suspect it's cresting some time around now.
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Old 06-04-2019, 04:23 AM   #3
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Default Re: The end of the world as we know it...really?

I think the specific concern seems to be shared by and among the elite piping organizations.

That said, some impact is being felt through all levels and in the US. In the EUSPBA, the number of competitor events for bands has been diminishing, as have the number of bands at those competitions.

Others can elaborate on what they believe are root causes. Iíve only been in it the scene the last three years. And what I see are growing band sizes (which create a gravitational pull that reaches a critical mass where talk about Scotland becomes realistic, drawing in outside ringers and pulling away members from smaller organizations) and declining interest in the younger generation.

Just my 2 Cents about possible causes for a purported decline.

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Old 06-04-2019, 06:32 AM   #4
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Default Re: The end of the world as we know it...really?

Utah, not the place that first comes to mind when thinking of bagpipes, boasts two High School pipe bands, a university pipe band, four competing pipe bands, (some of which have competition groups at three or more grades,) a few other non-competition bands, three Scottish/Highland Games every year plus a couple more band/soloist competitions, several Irish and Highland Dance schools... The view from out here is certainly not a bleak one...
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Old 06-04-2019, 08:30 AM   #5
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Default Re: The end of the world as we know it...really?

I reside near a modest coastal city in Mississippi. On the coast I can name 8 pipers. Going 90 miles north to Hattiesburg, there is a small pipeband that is attempting to expand outwards to events and is seeking wider experience. However needing to travel for a day and spend one or two nights at Grandfather Mountain or other venue elsewhere really doesn't aid the goals of expanding piping in the South.

Even locally, I made an attempt to organize a non competitive day of piping, by trying to set up a Tattoo. The responces I recieved were less than supportive, with one band replying they would need to be paid to come the roughly 100 miles. This along the area stretching from Pensacola to New Orleans. Although the local news would of provided some coverage and we could of provided a web presence to go along with promotion of the bands and event.

All that said, if we as pipers and drummers locally and regionally can not support showing a wider presence, people may not see us as much more than a presence at memorial services and funerals. A 5 second clip of a piper warming up before a memorial day service is not a supportive presence.

The world is changing, more people get canned music instead of playing music, arts seem to be less supported in many aspects from my point of view, and mores the shame.
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Old 06-04-2019, 10:54 AM   #6
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Default Re: The end of the world as we know it...really?

I have not read the editorials, the articles, and I'm not current on what was said on the Big Rab Show. On the other hand, I'm familiar with the argument. The critical point is that, generally, there are band competitions at Highland Games. There are fewer Highland Games, mainly because they are extremely expensive to put on. There is a sizable outlay for a venue, and the operator hopes to receive all (or most) of their money back through gate receipts. No matter how you parse this, there is a large element of risk for those putting the events on.

A solo competition can be put on with a substantially lower outlay. Just this last weekend, in Elk Grove near Sacramento, a WUSPBA Solo competition grades 4 through 2, was held at a micro-brewery. Micro Breweries tend not to have much going on of a Saturday morning, so the facility can be had for little or no money. Potentially the micro brewery could sponsor a competition. The venue responsibility for the comp is pretty small (especially compared to a band competition). The venue provides site, a restroom, and someplace to have the competition, in last weekends adventure, the parking lot. A lot of fun was had, good piping and drumming was prevalent and overall, I think that the world of piping would be well served to follow this model going forward.
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Old 06-04-2019, 02:41 PM   #7
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Default Re: The end of the world as we know it...really?

One of the things I think is important to remember is that competitions in the UK and North America are put together very differently.

In the US, odds are the band competition, the solo competition, maybe a dancing contest, and a highland athletics competition are all in the same event.

In the UK, band competitions are generally on their own, sometimes with carnival attractions and vendors, and then solo competitions are usually held in conjunction with highland athletics and dance competitions.

But, that being said, I do think that there is an issue of resources going on in the competitive pipe band world. There is a huge pull for bigger bands, longer travels, and there isn't the money for it either on the input (band members' pockets) or on the output (prize money, band gigs, etc.).

Another, more broad issue, and a more important one, is the issue of the music culture being less well engaged than it could/should be. Piping cd's, compositions, and folk bands are less well-known to the piping public (we are, after all, part of the celtic folk scene) than they have been in the past.

But, that is an issue for another day.
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Old 06-06-2019, 09:37 PM   #8
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Default Re: The end of the world as we know it...really?

What is happening again? Less bands and less of the remaining bands traveling? I think I've been away from the 'Games scene too long.

I know at the local Highland Games here I haven't found them terribly interesting since I became a piper years ago. I'm not interested in expensive bad for me food, I don't need any trinket'y things so I don't go to any of the tents or events, and I don't really drink alcohol so much. It's a lot of people, expense and hubbub just to see bands.

I will say that sadly those have been decreasing over the years I've noticed. We used to have SFU and Dowco for G1 but then SFU had to put its priorities at bigger games and Dowco eventually dissolved so it's just not the same. Would be better for me in Portland to drive north to Seattle to some of the bigger games that attract more Canadians where all the best pipers live.
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Old 06-07-2019, 06:47 AM   #9
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Default Re: The end of the world as we know it...really?

To me this is nothing but a couple Chicken Little doomsaying give us back the Good Ol' Days types.

I pay as much attention to them as I do the conspiracy theory people.

The things these people say are almost never interesting, or true.
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Old 06-09-2019, 11:41 AM   #10
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Default Re: The end of the world as we know it...really?

I hear what others are saying, and agree with William about the Portland Games. What's happened, in addition, in the NW is that the BCPA has made it clear that they want only serious competition bands in the games. That means that some good bands that are more 'performance' bands, but like to compete to keep ther skill set up are not welcomed. BCPA has forced them to move down in grades in some cases, and have put in rules that force them to place or win in order to keep their grade. They may well belong out there (and I do agree if a band doesn't belong in a grade to move down); but if they fail to place consistently it's assumed they are not worthy. That's discouraged some bands; and a few have decided to go south (e.g., to WUSPBA) or to other competitions (or none).
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