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Date: Wednesday, 22nd April 2015
Contributor: Robert Mathieson - Adjudicator Panel

Work Within the RSPBA Adjudicators Panel


David Brown - Drumming Adjudicator

The roll of the adjudicator can often be a thankless task. Nevertheless they are very much a necessary part of our competing circuit within the RSPBA calendar. The panel provides adjudicators for approx 60 UK contest venues annually and numerous overseas events upon request. This translates into almost a thousand competition performances at major championships and almost 2000 performances at minor contests and regional championships. Rain, hail or shine there is always a band waiting at the line for a critique to help them on their journey to the highest level they can successfully achieve.

The success and growth in the art of piping, drumming and drum majoring within pipe bands has meant that grading and restructuring is a constant and ongoing project. In conjunction with the Board of Directors, the music board and various educational arms of the organization, the adjudicators panel strive to meet the demands and expectations of the competitors, the audience, the administrators and often the media in delivering a hopefully professional service and product to the customer whether they be inside and outside the circle.

Performance Analysis
Results often fuel debate and dissatisfaction as well as celebration for those competing in the events. Placing multiple performances in order of merit in what could be described as a somewhat subjective art form, is no mean feat. Especially when we live in a digital world of instant aural and video recall reliving the assessed moments of a musical performance. The adjudicator lives with no such luxury when it comes to live performances. He gets one chance to hear it and one chance to write it with only a pen and reputation to support the final outcome. To help improve and keep abreast of musical and administrative changes the panel run annual training workshops to help cope with the growing demands and refresh musical critique skills. To this end an Adjudicators development Group has been formed to coordinate and circulate professional development and training across a full spectrum of topics within pipe band music and adjudication. As well as monitoring and mentoring adjudicators it also has a remit to ensure continuity and preparation of our new recruits and future adjudicators meeting the standards and experience criteria in conjunction with the management group.

Looking back over any competing season certain anomalies are often flagged up when judges take a differing view of a particular performance whilst judging a pipe band competition. This often sparks great debate amongst competitors and enthusiasts as to which judge they most agree with. Its inevitable that differing views will crop up in assessing any type of art form nevertheless a monitored overview is carried out to ensure that these anomalies are scrutinised and see if there is a logical reason for this or if we can learn from that particular situation in question. Different tastes and perspectives will always muddy the waters when trying to achieve absolute consistent order of merit from a group of adjudicators. However that does not prevent us from trying to achieve the almost impossible.

During our monitoring sessions several positive findings and observations were uncovered during analysis. It can be observed that a slightly lower success rate was achieved at the major contests although still achieving reasonably well in the high percentages. It was also observed that more than half of the anomalies occur in grade 4. Suggesting that larger entries and lower grade performances present a greater challenge to the panel.

Here are some of the statistics when viewing consistency of placings

Minor contests

  • Piping marks within 6 placings 99.3%
  • Piping marks within 5 placings 98.0%
  • Piping marks within 4 placings 95.7%
  • Piping marks within 3 placings 92.0%
Major Championships
  • Piping marks within 6 placings 94.5%
  • Piping marks within 5 placings 92.5%
  • Piping marks within 4 placings 87.9%
  • Piping marks within 3 placings 80.0%

Training Projects
The current adjudicators approved list of adjudicators boasts a membership of 26 unattached Piping, 5 attached piping, 4 attached piping overseas, 11 drumming unattached, 4 drumming attached, 2 overseas drumming and 8 drum majors unattached. Totaling a current membership of 60 RSPBA Adjudicators. Within the current membership 10 are listed as approved ensemble adjudicators.

A course is currently under way training an additional 6 ensemble adjudicators which should be the end of the 2015 season.

The next piping and drumming new intake adjudicator training course will commence in May 2015.

The 2015 Adjudicator Information Meetings were held at regional centres on the following dates.

Glasgow - Sunday 29th March
N Ireland - Saturday 21st March
Glasgow - Sunday 12th April

Robert Mathieson
Adjudicator Secretary


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