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Old 12-01-2018, 12:27 PM   #11
Andrew Lenz
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Default Re: What does the EUSPBA do?

I can't speak to the EUSPBA, but I can speak to WUSPBA. Aside from website expenses, form printing, other assorted administrative expenses (postage, etc.), a big expense was running the AGM (annual general meeting) where all the officers and committees got together planned action for the year, made presentations to the membership, edited and voted on proposals, tested prospective judges and other critical business. AGM expenses included renting the facility for a couple of days, rooms and flights for officers, and miscellaneous things like photocopying, water and maybe snacks for the meetings. Running an AGM is many thousands of dollars, easily topping $10,000-$20,000.

If you want to know more about your association accounting, contact your treasurer. Or better yet, go to your AGM and see the budgeting presentation in person.

I can assure you that associations are not rolling in cash and/or giving pedicures to the officers. I know WUSPBA does provide extra funds (when they exist) back to branches to run workshops and educational opportunities.

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Last edited by Andrew Lenz; 12-01-2018 at 12:30 PM.
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Old 12-01-2018, 08:24 PM   #12
Pppiper
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Default Re: What does the EUSPBA do?

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Originally Posted by thevoidboy View Post
Nate - a very nice defense of the status quo, and I understand why you would do so given your recent successes. But I am not convinced. And Iím not sure if these competitions and games are flourishing to the degree you suggest. Of course, I donít have any numbers to know one way or another. But anecdotally, in my own experience attendance is down, Including bands.
I think there's some clarification in order here. In particular, I hope you're not suggesting that my view toward the organization has anything to do with any of my personal successes/failures. My views toward (and the merits of) the organization are not subject to change based on my competitive standing.

Additionally, I did not suggest that these games/competitions are flourishing. I simply stated why/how they "help." I quite agree that attendance is down, and personally I would love to see any/all measures taken to make non-competing individuals and groups feel included and bolstered.

It's not perfect. And frankly, I kept myself away from all of this for many, many years. I wish that I hadn't, though to be honest, competition will never be my cup of tea (I am a coffee drinker afterall). Are systems that are in place perfect? Absolutely not. But I shudder to think how the state of piping culture might be if these organizations weren't in place.

Not wanting to be too didactic here, but please read the responses from people more carefully, and don't put words in their mouths. And absolutely do not suggest someone to be biased due to their competitive record.

All the best,
~Nate
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Old 12-02-2018, 08:52 AM   #13
thevoidboy
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Default Re: What does the EUSPBA do?

Nate - thank you.

I guess what I am suggesting is that we tend to assume competitions help. Iím wondering, whom do they help? Competitors, I suppose. But do they help service bands, for example? No. Do they encourage a new audience of listeners? Probably not so much. Do they help us as musicians extend and explore our art and interpretations. Not really.

They give some of us an occasion to target our performance and play elsewhere than in our homes and practice rooms, when there are very few other options. They do encourage us to practice and learn and get better at our technique. They give a few elites the showcases they deserve to highlight the abilities.

But the question is: what does the EUSPBA do? And the response was ďcompetitionsĒ (and affiliated activities). There is no doubt that many find that a value. But I do not find it valuable enough. There are many more ways that would, in fact, support and grow the art. But historical blinders and old habits are hard to break.

I donít think we need a defense of competitions. I think we need to recognize that they only go so far, and ask the rhetorical question: is that far enough?

I think a PBA could do much more. Much much more.

Donít you?



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Old 12-02-2018, 10:34 AM   #14
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Default What does the EUSPBA do?

When making the move from Phoenix to Denver a while back, my PM suggested that I look for competing bands. His viewpoint was that the desire to succeed in competition usually challenged bands to aim for better unity and musicality.

If a service band has one or more competing piper, then he/she may likely be more critical of tuning, unity, and musicality.

I did once compete against a piper who did not bother tuning his drones even close to each other. He may have been a better player, but was bettered by me. Surely competition feedback should have encouraged this fellow to improve other aspects of his piping than abilities than moving his fingers on the chanter. Could the same be said for bands?

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Old 12-02-2018, 04:51 PM   #15
Steven Knox
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Default Re: What does the EUSPBA do?

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Originally Posted by thevoidboy View Post
I donít think we need a defense of competitions. I think we need to recognize that they only go so far, and ask the rhetorical question: is that far enough?

I think a PBA could do much more. Much much more.
Right now, one thing a competition affords us, as pipers, is an educated and appreciative audience. I would say that, as an entire community of performing artists, we pipers have generally have either failed to create an audience capable of appreciating competent solo piping, or (more likely) have simply not tried to. And so we have EUSPBA professional competitions in good venues with really good players and about 10 people in the audience, many (most? all?) of whom are pipers or relatives of pipers. At the amateur level, even in grade one, there is no often no audience at all except those paid to be there as judges or teachers.(*)

At EUSPBA competitions I often literally can't help but notice that I'm within earshot of the WHUMP-A WHUMP-A WHUMP-A of one version of another of Ye Olde Traditionale Celtice Rocke Bande. Some of these have good pipers and some have... other pipers... but one thing they all have is a large, appreciative audience that's really spun up about the music they're hearing.

So among the "much more" a PBA could do would be to cultivate an audience. In the long run, that's probably the key to PBAs' financial survival and to the survival of our art. But then I reflect that actions of the PBAs are merely the collective actions of a bunch of us, and based on the current state of affairs, one could conclude that we've all decided we don't actually want audiences.

(*) I just counted, and I played in 26 grade one events at 8 different competitions this year. If we don't count judges and stewards, I bet I entertained well under 26 people throughout the whole season. Of course, I wouldn't know, because if I had an audience, I did my level best to ignore them. So on that score, I openly acknowledge that I am part of the problem.
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Old 12-03-2018, 06:29 AM   #16
Jim Fogelman
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Default Re: What does the EUSPBA do?

WRT solo piping competitions, at least out here, the solos start before the Games really open. Solos often start at 8 for G4 soloists and the general games-goers don't show up until 10 or 11.

As for the WHUMP-A WHUMP-A of the loud celtic rock band, I think the things they have going for them are:
1) It's in the beer tent. Therefore: beer and seats.
2) Many people are drawn to loud and percussive sounds. I've been in parades where there are (non-piping) groups that are just playing everything very loud and out of tune and hitting the drums with no sense of musicality. In their mind louder is better. Doesn't matter what it sounds like.
3) Simplicity. There are no nuances that the general public won't understand in this kind of music. Trying to get Joe Schmoe to understand a piobaireachd or to get why the pulse isn't metronomically steady in a strathspey is going to be difficult. If Joe Schmoe doesn't understand that he's listening to when he walks up, he's going to keep on moving and go to the beer tent where the drums hit every beat and he can sit there and clap along.
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Old 12-03-2018, 07:53 AM   #17
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Default Re: What does the EUSPBA do?

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Nate - thank you. I guess what I am suggesting is that we tend to assume competitions help. I’m wondering, whom do they help? ... I think a PBA could do much more. Much much more. Don’t you?
Alright, I can assure you that any attempts at brevity here are sure to fail. My apologies, but I assure you, while the long-windedness of the following is regrettable, my goal here is clarity.

I wholeheartedly agree that a PBA could do more; I could hardly argue with such an assertion. Again, I'm not trying to stipulate that all is perfect and pristine with what is done by any PBA organization. I'm merely trying to approach at least a slightly "glass half-full" perspective in that what is currently and historically done DOES help to keep the culture alive.

People (audiences, friends, etc) are often shocked when I inform them that Scotland and Ireland do not hold a monopoly on "the bagpipe." Just about every region from the British Isles, down to Morocco, and over to at least Persia can claim to host some sort of bagpipe instrument in their culture. "How can this be?" they'll often ask. "Why then do folks only ever know of (some) pipes from Scotland and/or Ireland?"

Well (as far as I've understood), bagpipes made their way all throughout the Western world through the empires. The Greeks, the Romans ... and finally ... Britain. Traditionally, pipes were pretty much only a folk instrument in all of its various incarnations, until the British saw fit to include the Highland pipes in its military corps. Anything in the military needs to be standardized ... and how better to test players' adherence to standard than to have them compete? I don't know precise history here, this is all my vague understanding gained from years upon years of hearsay from others.

Accordingly, you have a relative (please note the operative word) flourishing and spread of Highland pipes adoption throughout the world (i.e., the former British empire), while many, many incarnations of the bagpipe withered away from use/memory as communities' habits changed (people move away, younger generations lose interest, etc).

So with this in mind, continuing the competition activities is to continue striving to keep this momentum going, in whatever degree possible. Granted, I do feel this momentum is starting to dwindle some, but I feel that this could be refocused ... and the many suggestions offered by you and others here could make all the difference.

Again, the system isn't how I would have it ... but I certainly favor a flawed system instead of none at all. Personally, I stayed away from competition and all aspects of it for more than 20 years of actively playing. I liked the folk aspect of piping, and I'll always prefer it. I finally broke down and decided to give competing a go last year after determining that any experience gained would make me more well-rounded for the purposes of teaching someday.

In doing so, I've been forced to rethink and reassess my views toward the competition system. Mind you, I AM very skeptical, but I do try to pride myself in attempting to be unbiased. In so doing, I've come to realize that I've unwittingly enjoyed many indirect benefits from the existence of PBAs for most of my life.

For one, I'd not have found the pipes had the system not been here. My first instructor was an avid competitor when he was young, and had he not kept it up, my dad would never have found him, and thus I'd never have started. Over the years, I've performed all over, for many audiences, and I have started some toward pursuing piping themselves. Some I've taught, others have come to me at concerts to tell me that I'd been part of their inspiration to take it up. Nothing makes my heart feel warmer, it's a feeling that no competition win can match.

So despite my prior distain for actively competing, I'd been an unwitting beneficiary of the local PBA (the EUSPBA) from day one. And the links also extend to my preferred folk applications. I discovered smallpipes and borderpipes during my many summers in Cape Breton studying at the Gaelic College. Personally, this kept me going with piping more than anything else, if for no other reason than my prior contempt for competition. Fun-filled hours playing in sessions and on stages with great folks ... and no grumpy guy behind a table with a clipboard, yelling at me because I dared show my face to him without a Glengarry. =P

Well, smallpipes and borderpipes nearly went the way of the dodo ... just like many other folk-versions of the bagpipe through history. Thanks to the efforts of a number of pioneering folks in the 70s and 80s, the instruments have enjoyed a significant revival that continues to this day (some good info here ... http://www.borderbagpipes.com/Histor...0Bagpipes.html). This revival was majorly helped by the instruments finding their way into the Highland piping community ... which was grown heavily from, in least in some manner, the existence of competitions/gatherings.

So if smallpiping/borderpiping had faded into obscurity? God, imagine what a tragedy this might have been ... and that'd have been the death knell for my relationship with piping, before I'd have turned what, 15?

So ... I say again ... it HELPS. It ALL HELPS. I don't want this culture to wither away and die. I want it to flourish. Can the PBAs do more to help this proliferation? Of course they can ... and they should. But after much self-reflection and recalculation that I have undergone in the past couple of years, I can heartily say that I am very grateful for what HAS been done. I daresay there are plenty of folks who don't realize how, direct or otherwise, the efforts of PBAs have touched their lives, and helped to shape what form piping is today. I AM greedy though, and I want more, and I intend to be rather outspoken in arguing for it as time goes on ... all in due course.

You can call the glass half-full, or even full-empty ... I'm just happy there's a glass.

All the best, to you and to all.

Cheers,
~Nate

Last edited by Pppiper; 12-03-2018 at 07:59 AM.
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Old 12-03-2018, 10:50 AM   #18
thevoidboy
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Default Re: What does the EUSPBA do?

Iíve just come from a pibroch club that meets the last Sunday of every month (or will do, after this month). They hold it in a speakeasy. They advertise in local ďWhatís HappeningĒ sites. Over the course of the hour I was there, more people listened than the entire year Steve Knox spent on the boards. The public. Listening to pibroch. Hanging around for good solid stretches.

We need more things like that.

And we need top players doing more things like that.

Just one example. How could the PBA help? How about more formal venues and recitals? How about sponsoring (paying) their open professionals to attend? How about giving points to lower grade competitors for attending and learning how to play for the public?


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Old 12-03-2018, 11:08 AM   #19
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Default Re: What does the EUSPBA do?

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I’ve just come from a pibroch club that meets the last Sunday of every month (or will do, after this month). They hold it in a speakeasy. They advertise in local “What’s Happening” sites. Over the course of the hour I was there, more people listened than the entire year Steve Knox spent on the boards. The public. Listening to pibroch. Hanging around for good solid stretches.

We need more things like that.

And we need top players doing more things like that.

Just one example. How could the PBA help? How about more formal venues and recitals? How about sponsoring (paying) their open professionals to attend? How about giving points to lower grade competitors for attending and learning how to play for the public?


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Heartily suggest submitting proposals that they do so, assuming you're a member? EJ Jones held a public, top-level (restricted to Open and Grade One I believe) competition at a Maryland Irish festival this past year, and I feel that is definitely along the lines you're suggesting.

If you've made such submissions and they weren't adopted, don't let up. Board members change, etc ... write articles asking for the membership to speak up about changes ... the organization is what WE make of it.

Best,
~Nate

Last edited by Pppiper; 12-03-2018 at 11:27 AM.
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Old 12-03-2018, 03:03 PM   #20
Nathaniel
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Default Re: What does the EUSPBA do?

Some associations are always looking for volunteers - committees, donations, expertise, membership, board of directors.
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