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Date: Friday, 4th September 2009
Contributor: Alistair Aitken - Adjudicator Panel

How to become and Adjudicator


Alistair Aitken

The Adjudicators’ Panel of the RSPBA is an integral part of the structure of the Association. It is overseen by a Management Board. The Adjudicators’ Training Group and Drum Majors’ Sub-Group are sub-committees of the Management Board. The membership of the Management Board comprises a Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Minute Secretary, two members of the RSPBA National Council and two members of the Adjudicators’ Training Group. Current members are:

  • Jim Hutton, Convener

  • Malcolm MacKenzie, Vice-Convener

  • Joe Noble, Minute Secretary

  • Gordon Hamill, RSPBA Vice Chairman

  • Bill McMorran, National Councillor
  • Bob Shepherd MBE, Adjudicators’ Training Group

  • Alistair Aitken OBE, Adjudicators’ Training Group

The Adjudicators’ Panel Management Board is accountable to the RSPBA National Council regarding policy for:

  • Adjudication standards (covering the process of adjudication, training, conduct and dress) and Adjudicator membership terms and conditions;

  • Criteria for entry to the Adjudicators’ Panel (Piping, Drumming and Drum Majors);

  • Adjudicator retiral policy;

  • Adjudicator classifications (i.e. Unattached or Attached to Bands);

  • Adjudicator performance and continuing professional development; and

  • Adjudicators’ Panel Constitution and Code of Practice;

The Adjudicators’ Training Group is accountable to the National Council, through the Management Board, for:

  • Reviewing Adjudicator performance, availability and usage;

  • Developing, applying and reviewing entry criteria for the Adjudicators’ Panel;

  • Preparing and conducting Adjudicator training courses, and deciding their results;

  • Administering Adjudicator mentoring and continuing professional development; and

  • Aligning Adjudicator training to national education and training developments.

The Drum Majors' Sub-Group is responsible for consideration of matters relating to Drum Major Adjudicators under the direction of the Adjudicators' Panel Management Board or the Adjudicators' Training Group.

The Music Board of the RSPBA is responsible to the National Council for adjudication procedure within the different types of competition (e.g. number of Adjudicators; balance between Piping, Drumming, Ensemble or Musical Appreciation and Presentation (MAP) Adjudicators).

There are 4 categories of RSPBA Adjudicator:

  • Piping

  • Drumming

  • Ensemble

  • Drum Major

Piping, Drumming and Ensemble Adjudicators may also be asked on occasions to adjudicate Musical Appreciation and Presentation (MAP) competitions for which there are different adjudication criteria.

The Adjudicators’ Panel Management Board is committed to ensuring that RSPBA Adjudicators are competent, credible and professional. New processes have been introduced for Adjudicator mentoring, performance management and continuing professional development.

New criteria have also been introduced for entry to the Adjudicators’ Panel. Effective adjudication requires a wide range of skills which in many ways differ from the skills required by players in pipe bands. Some of the required skills are personal attributes; some are developed through qualifications attainment or from lengthy playing experience at high level; some can be acquired or improved by initial training and continuing professional development; and others can only be achieved or enhanced gradually through practical experience of adjudication.

Applicants for entry to Adjudicator training must be aware of the importance of the role for which they are applying; and those who meet the criteria will be considered for training only if there is a need for new Adjudicators. Applicants are expected to hold:

  • The RSPBA Advanced Certificate in Piping or Snare Drumming; or

  • An equivalent qualification in Piping or Snare Drumming at HNC/D or degree level; or

  • An equivalent qualification in musical theory together with evidence of practical application of that qualification in a Piping or Drumming environment

Applicants must have had at least 20 years playing experience, with a minimum of 10 years’ recent experience in Grade One or 15 years in Grade Two in the capacity of Pipe Major, Pipe Sergeant, Drum Sergeant/Leading Drummer, Drum Corporal/Flank Drummer or distinguished band player. Exceptionally applicants with a shorter experience record who have distinguished competition achievements may be accepted, provided that they also have at least 5 years’ recent experience in Grade One or 10 years’ in Grade Two.

Applicants should also have a good track record of teaching Piping or Drumming in pipe bands, particularly at Novice-Juvenile and Juvenile levels. They must submit the names of two referees who can confirm their reputation, conduct, integrity and reliability and, if appropriate, details of their experience/achievement record. They must be healthy and fit as adjudication can involve assessing as many as 50 bands per contest in all weather conditions; and they must be prepared to accept the RSPBA Adjudicators’ Code of Practice.

Before being allowed entry to the RSPBA Adjudicator training programme, all applicants for Piping and Drumming Adjudicators must pass a pre-entry test and interview which assesses skills such as:

  • Written communication

  • Numerical ability

  • Team working

  • Analysis and assessment

  • Ability to compare objectively and place in order of preference

  • Ability to operate under pressure

  • Understanding of piping and drumming, musical presentation and RSPBA competition rules

Full details of the application process can be obtained from RSPBA Headquarters.


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