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  • BCPA Rule Changes & Questions

    BCPA has recently sent out an announcement on grading and other rule changes for pipe bands for the 2017/18 season. Some of the explanations are a bit confusing; and, since I've not heard back from BCPA on my questions, I thought I'd pose a few here.

    First, it appears that BCPA is adopting--yet not fully adopting--the RSPBA grading: “For harmonization within North America, BCPA is retaining the numbered grade system however the calibre of those grades will be set equivalent to the corresponding RSPBA band grade calibre.” I think this is an attempt to re-grade bands based upon the perception of their competition "quality." For instance, some bands that have not been placing in Grade 4, would be moved to the RSPBA-equivalent of Grade 4B, but would really be Grade 5 in BCPA. What's unclear is whether or not BCPA will separate the "junior" bands from the "adult" bands, which RSPBA does. It appears that they will not.

    Second, the QMM (or what's called Quick Marches Set), which used to be a collection of marches within a certain time frame, will be: “4 x 2 parted Marches from the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Associations list of prescribed tunes.” Does the "4 x 2" mean four 2-parted tunes? If that's the case, coupled with having to be from the RSPBA-prescribed tunes, that takes some latitude from the P/M on tune selection.

    It also appears that the MSR has changed to either 4-part or two 2-part tunes. I may be wrong, but I thought MSRs were to be 4-parted tunes, only.

    In any event, for those in other associations (e.g., WUSPBA), are you seeing similar changes? Are they adopting RSPBA grading? And are you seeing any upcoming changes, such as separating the junior and adult bands? Thanks.

  • #2
    Re: BCPA Rule Changes & Questions

    We're all bumping around with our heads stuffed deep on this one.
    Yes, expect to get kicked down if the band hasn't scored higher than average. The man behind the curtain can be ruthless.

    Yes, Four 2-part marches from the tune list are required, so very little choice from the PM involved. Play it as is, play it straight, to get the placings to move up. Neil Clark has some good videos on yootoob. Sounds like fun, eh?

    WUSPBA notes from their AGM are online, but the vote to align with RSPBA grades was shot down recently. Don't know about eastern associations.

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    • #3
      Re: BCPA Rule Changes & Questions

      The only'problem' I read is the issue with junior bands not clearly being set apart from adult bands.

      Otherwise,afaik, two 2 part Marches as an alternate for one 4 part March has 'always' been ok ...I think...in band or solo comps.

      Consider the BCPA board is charged with improving the quality of the field...no doubt spelled out in the organizational charter....they would be remiss if they did not. Any band unhappy with a new lower grade moniker has the option to pull itself up by the bootstraps if committed and really want to. A marathon building process...not a sprint.

      This requires strong band leadership and the commitment of all players in the band...not some;...the some who don't want to commit can always carry the band banner on parade or cheer from the sidelines.

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      • #4
        Re: BCPA Rule Changes & Questions

        I appreciate the responses and perspective. I do get the bootstrap comment; and agree...particularly when a band wishes to be a competition band. And therein lies the definition aspect. This topic was touched upon in another thread. Although redundant, I'm going to repeat a portion of my post in that topic, given its relevance here:

        There are "competition" bands, meaning that's their primary focus, even though they may also do performances, for instance to raise funds.

        There are, like ours, and for lack of a better description, "performance" bands (and that can span quite a wide spectrum), with various performances being the primary focus.

        Some performance bands, like ours, also choose to compete. In our case, we use competition as a focal point to improve our playing, to get comments to that end, and for other reasons. Can we compete? These days, going against bands that do 6, 7 or more competitions, when we do perhaps a couple, it is difficult to win, or even place. If that were our goal, however, then we would focus differently. Yet given our reason for still competing, that's not our primary goal (though that does not diminish our effort). I simply want to know if we belonged on the field; and as long as I know that we did, and were credible (meaning not an embarrassment), we've accomplished our goal. By the way, we have won in the past, and I don't rule out at least placing more in the future, even though we remain primarily a performance band.

        All that said, it's clear that some organizations are, through a number of actions, discouraging anyone but competition bands to be on the field. That may bode well for the competition/musical scene; it does not, however, for a number of Games, as well as for those bands who still work to maintain a level of skill and music, and use competition as a vehicle to that end.

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        • #5
          Re: BCPA Rule Changes & Questions

          [QUOTE=EquusRacer;1315033

          :
          , and use competition as a vehicle to that end.

          [/QUOTE]

          Why not get consider to get everyone's head in the game,so to speak,...by 'becoming' a consistent /not part time competition band firstly...and performance band secondly. The band is already a dues paying member....just follow the org criteria and great things can happen. It can only help improve the band outcome.

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          • #6
            Re: BCPA Rule Changes & Questions

            Originally posted by el gaitero View Post
            Why not get consider to get everyone's head in the game,so to speak,...by 'becoming' a consistent /not part time competition band firstly...and performance band secondly. The band is already a dues paying member....just follow the org criteria and great things can happen. It can only help improve the band outcome.
            I've played with, and been an instructor in, so-called competition bands. Or, as you put it, "competition band firstly...and performance band secondly." It's a lot of work; and can be very gratifying. The point that I know what a competition band is and what's involved.

            In my band, it's a function of who/what we are; and turning our particular band into a competition band firstly would tear it apart. In that case, what I'm hearing is "then don't compete." I believe that's also the message from some of the various associations in that there's no room on the competition field unless that's the primary focus. Fair enough.

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            • #7
              Re: BCPA Rule Changes & Questions

              Yes. I think you have nailed it....it's all or not at all.

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              • #8
                Re: BCPA Rule Changes & Questions

                Originally posted by EquusRacer View Post
                Fair enough.
                Nah, I don't think so, Mike. If the assoc wants to downgrade the band, don't take it personally. Play the four 2-parted marches in G5 and do them well until you get bumped up. No need to stress people and players from what they normally do as members of the band. Just take the drop, play your best, and move forward.

                When you and I played as a good G3 30 years ago, it was a different criteria than it is now. We had flexibility to present good medleys that were exhibits of our creativity. Now, it's all about getting on a hamster wheel to one day play in the UK in the same way and look the same way as everybody else. That wouldn't have been our cuppa back then, and it isn't now I suspect.

                I suggest you reset your goals to maintain a presence at competitions in a grade that will suit your players, who are mainly a performance band, and still enjoy the banter and bangers at the games as usual. If they determine you aren't comparable to a specific grade, so be it, it doesn't make you any less valuable to the tradition. It simply means you will have to give up playing your well considered medleys for judges. Not really much harm done then.
                I'll see you on the field. cheers.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: BCPA Rule Changes & Questions

                  Originally posted by Rooklidge View Post
                  Nah, I don't think so, Mike. If the assoc wants to downgrade the band, don't take it personally. Play the four 2-parted marches in G5 and do them well until you get bumped up. No need to stress people and players from what they normally do as members of the band. Just take the drop, play your best, and move forward.

                  When you and I played as a good G3 30 years ago, it was a different criteria than it is now. We had flexibility to present good medleys that were exhibits of our creativity. Now, it's all about getting on a hamster wheel to one day play in the UK in the same way and look the same way as everybody else. That wouldn't have been our cuppa back then, and it isn't now I suspect.

                  I suggest you reset your goals to maintain a presence at competitions in a grade that will suit your players, who are mainly a performance band, and still enjoy the banter and bangers at the games as usual. If they determine you aren't comparable to a specific grade, so be it, it doesn't make you any less valuable to the tradition. It simply means you will have to give up playing your well considered medleys for judges. Not really much harm done then.
                  I'll see you on the field. cheers.
                  Thanks, Steve, for the kind and encouraging words. And when I said, "Fair enough," I think it was more meant to be "So be it!" Yes, the times have changed; and there's little to no room in most of the sanctioned games for the many bands, like us, who use competition as a focal point for improvement, yet not as a definer and end-all. Consequently, many of the games in the NW are seeing fewer and fewer bands on the field. And now I'll say, "So be it." That's what BCPA and other associations have created; and yet we, like many other bands, are not hacks, either.

                  Yes, when you and I were playing together, we were dominating Grade 3; and things certainly have changed since then. And, yes, it is nice to see the level of at least skill and execution having risen so. Creativity? You bring up a good point. Yet back to the times changing, had our band today competed against our band when we were in Grade 3, today's band would win. Yet we've had a hard time placing, these days, especially when bands that are clearly Grade 3 are allowed to remain in Grade 4. I know of at least one band that appealed to remain in Grade 4 when they were told to move up...and won the appeal! But now I'm eroding into blame; and I don't want to do that.

                  I accept what you and others have said; yet, as P/M, I also feel that it's my duty to recognize and protect the fabric of the band, even if I "stretch" it a bit in the quest to continue to improve, and at least maintain a level of respectable playing. And, as I've said before, notwithstanding that we're not a competition band, per se, we've not been an embarrassment on the field...and we've beaten some bands that compete five times as much as we.

                  In any event, thanks again for the kind words and encouragement. I'll look forward to seeing you on the field. Cheers, M

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