Judges, Pipe Majors, Leading Drummers …

Whether you are a pipe major, a leading drummer, a corps member or an adjudicator I think you should take two minutes to check this out. I recently caught up with Andrew Womersley from Melbourne, Australia who shared an incredible document that he helped to create. This document is a blueprint for Grade 4 pipe bands (and arguably a lot of it is applicable to ALL grades) on how to present ensemble – the do’s and the don’t so to speak.

I hope this is the start of a new trend – a trend where the adjudicators and the associations share with the members what they are looking for when judging a band. It can only lead to greater understanding among bands and judges and open up new possibilities for the development of playing standards worldwide.

A massive thanks to Andrew Womersley, Scott Nicholson and the BC Pipers Association for making this happen.

Hats off to you all.

James

Here’s the link : Grade-4-Competition-Ensemble-Expectations

Advertisements

A pipe band adjudicator’s sheet

We have all signed up for a hobby that is subjective, we perform in front of a judge and accept their decision on our placement in a contest. All too often I hear people complain about the result – but at the end of the day the judge’s job is to pick the prize winners and place the other competitors based on their experience whilst listening to your performance. Of course, we all hope that no political or tutoring bias weighs on the judges decision, and this aspect is of course a grey area and something that we are discouraged from dwelling on or discussing.

Let’s delve into the adjudication sheets.  Some sheets provide generic observations and others go into part by part detailed analysis of the performance from a technical standpoint.  What is right and what is wrong?

So, what is the adjudicators key role?  To decide on the positioning of the competitors? I feel that competitors often look to the sheets to see why they have placed where they have placed. “A great sheet, all mostly positive, great tone – 7th place!?!”. Honestly I hear this so many times from competitors and even from some parents! Reading into the sheets to try and justify the position you received is probably not the best approach.

What is the best way to create an adjudication sheet? Should it detail each part with the rights and wrongs from a technical aspect?  To me, this is more of an instructional lesson than an adjudicator’s sheet. When a soloist competes (at any level), they shouldn’t necessarily expect a sheet detailing how a flam should be played, or how to orchestrate a throw on D. Naturally at the lower levels, it can be valuable to offer up some advice to the rookies if they aren’t getting the instruction from a tutor. But generally, it becomes a tedious task for the judge to write notes on every aspect of every part that goes right or wrong. They would spend so much time focusing on parts and keeping track of errors that they would potentially lose the opportunity to enjoy the big picture.  Honing in on the small detail in my mind may be more of a coaching role (at a practice or rehearsal) rather than a judging role? Again, this is just totally my perspective and I’m all ears if anyone else feels otherwise.

Some of the best sheets I have read are the ones that address tone, depth, colour, dynamic presentation, execution, clarity, composition, integration, phrasing and musicality.  The sheet usually overviews the performance relating back to most of the key headings above. Often if something terrible happens (like a major fault or breakdown), the judge may note that a slip occurred. But honestly, I think these type of sheets are the best. They really make you think as a competitor – “what does he/she mean by that? I wonder where exactly in the performance is that happening? “.  To me, this should inspire the performer to approach the judge respectfully after the contest and ask if they can expand on their comments to help develop any personal weaker areas. The judges have so much value to offer, and a ton of experience. It seems a wasted opportunity not to reach out afterwards (it doesn’t need to be straight after the results either, it could be a few weeks later) and seek some feedback. I know some people feel that asking the judge why they placed in a specific position is not “the done thing”. Some people feel that it may appear that you are questioning the judges decision or his/her integrity. But I think there is a way to approach that situation and if you handle it correctly it can be a great learning experience for the competitor.

I see adjudication sheets vary in style and approach from country to country. This can be good and bad. But at the end of the day, I think a measured, consistent approach to adjudication is key for the pipe band fraternity. The RSPBA has an extensive training program for judges and you can see this in their sheet-writing. However, some other countries have their own processes for electing judges and they don’t always seem to have the same depth of training as the Scottish system. I really think this is an area that could help strengthen our competitions worldwide – a centralised adjudication training and appointment system can only be a good thing.

A big thank you to the judges out there who put their pens to paper, listen to all of our performances and make the tough decision to place the competitors as they see fit. It’s a tough job, and often only one person or band is going to be happy at the end of the day.

All I ask is that we all look at our current education programs and appointment processes for adjudication around the World.

James

Want to learn from a structured guide to pipe band drumming? Check out the digital version today!

What can pipers and drummers learn from an Astronaut?

NASA and the RSPBA may not have the same goalsIMG_7173, but their members both have a lot in common. I recently read An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, by Chris Hadfield – the famous Canadian astronaut who sang Bowie’s Space Oddity that went viral on youtube. The book was enlightening and inspiring – I really love this type of book – I’ve never been a major sci-fi fan. His story was one of sheer determination and passion, with long-term gain as his major short-term focus.

As a musician I was able to relate a lot of his thoughts and philosophies to the struggles that we face throughout our music career’s.  It’s not as simple as, I’m going to learn to drum and then in one year I will reach my peak and perform on a stage in front of 10,000 people. Picking up an instrument is a life changing decision, that can shape your thinking, your lifestyle and your direction.  Once you pick it up, you are making a commitment to dedicate your life to discovering the instrument’s possibilities and constantly challenging your personal ability. There is a never a final destination for a musician, it’s an ongoing journey of learning and developing.

Who doesn’t enjoy rudiment practice? One hour each day, for a year, on drags. 500 tachums each day for six months. 1 hour of GDE’s for two years. That should be music to our ears (pardon the pun) as musicians – the practice of simple tasks over and over again, so that we develop strong form and correct technique. But most of us would cringe at the thought of practicing menial tasks over and over – particularly those who are new to learning an instrument.  When we need it most (performing or competing under pressure) we will be thankful we have performed these mundane tasks over and over again. During these tasks, day-in day-out, it is so important that our mind is focused on the reason that we are practicing these simple and repetitive patterns. If we don’t have a long-term tangible goal – then why would we be motivated to actually perform these rudiments repetitively?

The journey to becoming an astronaut (particularly for a Canadian as they don’t have their own launch pad) is one which is very difficult and next to impossible.  The selection process is incredibly difficult, the intelligence requirements are extremely high, the physical demand is huge and the emotional drain is never-ending.

From a very young age Chris talks of wanting to become an Astronaut. Everything, from the age of 10, was working towards his final goal. Every sport he took, every book he read, every question he asked his elders – every single moment was dedicated to his goal of one day, becoming an Astronaut. He was not going to get an instant gratification – this goal wouldn’t come to fruition for many years – and he was perfectly comfortable knowing that it may never come true. It was the pursuit of an overriding goal that drove him. That overriding goal shaped his decisions and his life, all for the better. Had he not become an astronaut, he still would have achieved many great feats in his career.

When Chris finally became an Astronaut and flew in space – he realised that the journey was not over. He realised that the journey had just started! He felt that being in space was an ongoing journey of discovery.

For us pipers, drummers and other musicians – we need to be comfortable and happy knowing that we will never truly reach our end goal. We may have lots of personal victories along the way, but once we have achieved those goals, we then need to re-focus and re-calibrate. If every person quit performing once they had won their national or world title – it would be a sad world for musicians.

Set yourself a long-term goal, get down to some tedious rudiment development and enjoy the small successes along the way. Get out there and perform for the public. That’s what music is all about. Performing.

A little gem from Chris Hadfield :

“We can’t always control what happens to us in life when big moments come around. But we can control how prepared we are. It might seem obvious to prepare if you’re planning to pilot a Soyuz rocket to the International Space Station, but many of us fail to prepare for normal stuff in life – even if we know there are big moments are coming up.

So whether it’s a big exam, a job interview or sports final, when the high-stakes situations arise planning for success is key. In most scenarios you’ve passed or failed before you even begin, depending on your level of preparation.”

Chris Hadfield’s book is a must-read for sports-people, musicians, leaders, business-people and humans who want to lead a greater life. You can get it at most major book stores worldwide – or head to Amazon.

Take YOUR pipe band drumming to the next level!

That’s right – You can now challenge yourself with the more advanced Volume 2 book of Pipe Band Drumming.  James Laughlin has just released the second volume, following on from the Guide to Pipe Band Drumming Volume 1 (for learners).

The core of the book is based on structured step-by-step development of the three key skills required to improve your drumming. RHYTHM, PHRASING and TECHNIQUE. In addition to the book, you can use the accompanying audio tracks to enhance your learning experience.

What have drummers been saying about the Guide to Pipe Band Drumming Volume 2?

“Hey James, I just wanted to let you know I got your new book and am loving it.” – Andrew Hoinacki, Top Grade 1 Scottish Drummer.

“Check out James Laughlin’s new book!! I was lucky to see it it before release which means I’ve got a jump on all of you! haha Great mental work out for advanced drummers and has really lit a fire under my score writing. What a great tool! Thanks, James! ” – Glenn Kvidahl, Leading Drummer with the LA Scots Pipe Band.

Check out more information about the book, and the AUDIO TRACKS!

You can get your copy here!

Pipe Band Drumming Workshop

Well, it happened again….only it was even bigger and better than ever.

The Canberra College of Piping and Drumming hosted their annual Workshop for bagpipers and drummers. This special event brought in players from all over Australia, U.K and New Zealand. The Worlds top piping and drumming experts offered their advice, skills and knowledge.

The teaching line-up included Jim Kilpatrick, Tyler Fry, Jori Chisholm, Greg Wilson, Stuart Liddell, James Laughlin, Brenton Earl, Richard Hawke, Grant Cassidy and Ken Maltman.

Pipe Band drumming lessons were offered to students of all levels.  People arrived, wanting to know how to play the Scottish drums, and they left with all the skills and ability to play the pipe band drum!

What topics were covered at the pipe band drumming workshop ?

Drum Rolls

Paradiddle Development

Rhythmic Exercises

Playing drum scores

And way more!

James Laughlin released his new book, Learn Pipe Band Drumming Volume 2, at the Canberra piping and drumming workshop. You can get your hands on a copy here.  If you are just starting to learn pipe band drumming, then James Laughlins Guide to Pipe Band Drumming Volume 1 would be the best option for you!

Don’t forget to check out the C2D Studio – the worlds first and only digital scottish drumming studio.

Results from Gourock – the Pipe Band season has started!

Grade 1 Results

Drumming Prize – Shotts and Dykehead

1st Place – Scottish Power Pipe Band

2nd Place – Shotts and Dykehead Pipe Band

3rd Place – Vale of Atholl Pipe Band

Grade 2

Drumming Prize – Denny and Dunipace Pipe Band

1st place – Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Pipe Band

Grade 3

Drumming Prize – Oban High School Pipe Band

1sp Place – Oban High School Pipe Band

For full results visit the RSPBA website.

Brought to you by http://www.come2drum.com

– Your Pipe Band Drumming Supplier and Educator.

Learn More About Scottish Drums

Many people often ask “what is the difference between the snare drum, the big drum and the other drum!?”.  Well, each of the drums within the pipe band has a unique role and function.

The Scottish Side Drum ( also known as the scottish snare drum, the high tension side drum or the pipe band snare) is the high-pitched drum with a very high-tension system.  The top head is made of Kevlar (Remo Cyber max and the Andante Core Tec are the two main brands) and the bottom head is made of mylar(Remo Ambassador is the main brand).  The key drum manufacturers are Andante Percussion, Pearl and Premier. They all make a great drum but they all offer different benefits. 

The Scottish Tenor Drum is a much lower and richer sounding drum than the side drum. It is also played with different mallets (the TyFry Tenor Mallet is the most commonly played mallet universally) that produce a much softer and more subtle sound.  Tenor drummers also create a very cool visual effect by flourishing or “twirling” the sticks. Check out this video to see for yourself.  Both the top and bottom head are made from mylar (Remo PowerMax and Aquarian Hosbilt are the main brands).

The Scottish Bass Drum – this is a much larger (usually 28″ by 16″) drum and produces a very rich and deep sound in comparison to the other drums.  Again, this drum is played with a mallet – much softer than the side drum sticks.  The Bass drum is considered the “heart-beat” of the band. Both heads are also made of mylar and are often decorated with logos.  Hosbilt, Andante, Pearl and Premier all manufacture quality bass drums.

To find out more about pipe band drumming please contact james@come2drum.com or visit www.come2drum.com 

There are also some learning options for those of you who would like to learn Scottish Drumming.  You can download the “Guide to Pipe Band Snare Drumming” instantly from www.come2drum.com

So what is available to those who want to learn more about Scottish drumming?

Learn Pipe Band Drumming Book and MP3′s – Available as an INSTANT DOWNLOAD or a hard copy book. The perfect start for any snare drummer. Whether you are an absolute beginner, an intermediate player trying to improve the basics, or a drummer with a different background dabbling in scottish drumming for the first time, this 65 page e-book and 43 track MP3 accompaniment outlines snare drumming from the very basics of learning how to hold the stick, understanding basic theory, developing basic rhythms, mastering the essential rudiments and learning your first drum settings.

Scottish Drum Scores to Download –

The collection of pipe band drum scores are all composed by James Laughlin.  James focusses strongly on the ensemble aspect of composition, all drum scores match and enhance the bagpipe melody to offer the listener a balance of excitement and swing. Click on your favourite pipe band drum score and have it instantly in your inbox with a clearly written drum score, and a high quality recording!

Free Pipe Band Drum Socres –  Enjoy 100 + Free Scottish drum scores at http://www.come2drum.com

Online Pipe Band Drumming Lessons – Scottish drumming lessons available to anyone in the World who wants to enjoy quality tuition from a World Champion drummer.   The drumming lessons are performed over Skype with web cam and mic – the results have been amazing!

You can also check out the following Youtube, Twitter and Facebook pages to keep you informed with information about Scottish drumming and the Pipe Band scene :

C2D Scottish Drumming Facebook Page

C2D Scottish Drumming Youtube Channel

C2D Scottish Drumming Twitter Page

Brought to you by http://www.come2drum.com

– Your Pipe Band Drumming Supplier and Educator