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News and Notices

Mark your calendar: Cobourg Games, September 11 (this year!)

Saturday July 10th, 2021

The Pipers’ & Pipe Band Society of Ontario is pleased to announce in conjuction with the Cobourg Highland Games Committee that the 2021 games will proceed on Saturday, September 11, 2021.

A full slate of solo and band events will be presented. Entry will be incorporated to the online registration facility and entry form on www.ppbso.org early next week (week of July 12).

One piper about to enter to play at the 2021 Cobourg Highland Games

Pipe band playing requirements are as follows:

  • Grade 1 – submit one March, Strathspey & Reel
  • Grade 2 – submit one March, Strathspey & Reel
  • Grade 3 – submit one March, Strathspey & Reel
  • Grade 4 – submit one march medley, quick time, 2’45” – 4’30”
  • Grade 5 – submit one march medley, quick time, 2’45” – 4’30”

In order to provide a forum for bands looking to perform a medley a special “Open Medley” event will be presented. Open to bands in grades 4 through 1, the contest will require bands to play a medley of their own choice of 4 to 8 minutes duration. Bands will be encouraged to consider “concert formation” for this event.

“We really need to tip our hat to the Cobourg Games committee, led by their president, George Cackette,” said Michael Grey, PPBSO President, “Cobourg will be the only outdoor games in Canada in 2021 east of the Rocky Mountains and it’s all down to Cobourg’s dogged optimism. Anyone participating will be taking part in something historic – I can’t wait!”

It must be noted that the presentation of the games will be contingent on provincial laws and local public health directives.

Test negative but think positive!

Video Reminder: Do not mark video entries “private”

Sunday July 4th, 2021

There has been great interest and participation from both members and pipers and drummers from outside the PPBSO in our 2021 online concert series! Our next games day is Kincardine on July 10. Results will be announced at 6:00 pm EDT on the PPBSO’s Facebook page with Big Kris Bawden, Chair of the PPBSO’s Communications Committee setting the stage.

We have recently had an uptick in video submissions marked “private”. These videos cannot be viewed by anyone but the video owner. Please be sure to follow the directions provided on our 2021 contest series page:

“All competitors are required to upload their video to YouTube. Videos do not have to be public, but must be either public or unlisted (see here for more information on how to set your privacy settings). By selecting unlisted, you will still be able to share your video with the PPBSO (and the judge) without it being publicly available.”

Thanks and good luck to all competitors!

It’s Almost time for SummerBlast! Instructor Update!

Saturday June 26th, 2021

P/M Ian Duncan has found that due to a last-minute and unexpected change in his calendar he has found it necessary to step aside from this year’s SummerBlast! summer school. We look forward to working with Ian in future PPBSO educational activities! 

In the meantime, we’re pleased to announce that P/M Chris Armstrong of the Scottish Power Pipe Band will join in the SummerBlast! fun!  As a band leader, soloist, composer, bagpipe maker and active piping educator he one of the world’s leading all-round exponents of the Great Highland Bagpipe.

P/M Chris Armstrong

Said Bob Worrall, Director of SummerBlast!, “Everyone knows that sometimes we have things that pop up in our lives that require us to shift schedules. We’ll see Ian Duncan working with us another time. Until then I’m excited to welcome Chris Armstrong to the instructor team. It’s going to be a great week!”

SummerBlast! is the first annual summer school for piping and drumming presented by The Pipers’ & Pipe Band Society of Ontario.  This year SummerBlast! is an online school. It runs from July 5 to July 9, 2021. 

1950s Scoresheet!

Friday June 25th, 2021

The Pipers’ & Pipe Band Society of Ontario recently received some items of ephemera (and reeds!) that come from the piping world of 1950s Ontario. Scott Harrison, of the Toronto Police Pipe Band organization, passed the material along courtesy of Linda Ferrier. The documents and reeds belonged to her father, Grant Ferrier, who was a piper in the 48th Highlanders of Canada Pipes and Drums.

Pictured here is a precursor to today’s more detailed score sheet, “Official Judging Score Card”. Judging of solo piping, as you can see, was calculated based on a points-driven division of performance elements. Half points were permitted. It would be another 50 years before the points system would be replaced by a performance ranking system. Note the founding listed name of the PPBSO, “The Pipers’ Society of Ontario”. Our current name, The Pipers’ & Pipe Band Society of Ontario, didn’t come into existence until April 1966.

You may find it interesting to note that execution, or technique, was given maximum weight in the scoring of performances. Note, too, “deportment”, counted in the overall score.

Grant Ferrier is the competitor listed. The judge is the famous John Wilson. He immigrated to the Toronto area from Edinburgh in 1949. Grant Ferrier’s tune appears to be, “H’d W’g”, or, it might be assumed, “Highland Wedding”.

Thanks to Scott Harrison and Linda Ferrier for allowing us this fascinating look into our past!

Amy Garson: Ottawa Branch 50th Anniversary Series

Sunday June 13th, 2021

To say that Amy has had an outstanding piping career is a huge understatement; and it’s now very much our privilege to recognize Amy for her remarkable achievements both here at home, in the United States and especially in the United Kingdom. In 1980, Colonel D.J.S Murray was very impressed with her performance at an Ottawa Piping Club competition at the Cartier Square Drill Hall. He was so impressed, in fact, that he produced a letter of recommendation for Amy to compete in the Silver Medal at the Northern Meeting in Inverness the following year.

At her debut at the Northern Meeting, Amy became the first North American female to win the Silver Medal for piobaireachd. Between 1982 and 1986, she continued her winning streak, picking up third, fourth and fifth place finishes in the Gold Medal contests at the Argyllshire Gathering in Oban and at Inverness.

Read the full and fascinating story of Amy Garson’s piping journey here.

Register free! This Saturday: Open Band Hall!

Thursday June 10th, 2021

The first of The Pipers’ & Pipe Band Society of Ontario’s “Up Yer Game” learning sessions is ready to go this coming Saturday (June 12 – 10:30 am EDT).

“Open Band Hall” is your chance to briefly gather (it’s a one-hour session) with friends and like-minded people on what would have been the PPBSO’s first games of the year.  Grab a coffee, sit back and hear from three savvy leaders, from the many of Ontario’s pipe bands. And if you’re up for it, take advantage of the opportunity to ask questions and provide comments, too. 

Facilitated by Trish Kirkwood of the Hamilton Police Pipe Band organization, Pipe Majors Tyler Bridge, John Cairns and Doug MacRae have thoughtfully prepared a review and tip sheet connected to what they have done to make a virtual pipe band a successful reality. Learn from their proven experience – and offer your ideas, too!

This is a session not to be missed. 

You can have a look at the list of the PPBSO’s other “Up Yer Game!” master classes (or learning sessions for all)  – here.

A note that the PPBSO has advised that all members of affiliate organizations are also welcome to register free for these sessions.

Register today!

PS.  A reminder that the deadline for registering for The Zorra Highland Gathering – also known as “Embro Games Online” is Thursday, June 17 –  we’ve a stellar line-up of judges to take in your tunes including P/M Ian Duncan and Ronnie McShannon from Scotland as well as Graham Brown and Michael Cole from the US!  Sign-up now!

Summerblast! Welcomes Legend P/M Ian Duncan!

Friday June 4th, 2021

The Pipers’ & Pipe Band Society of Ontario’s new summer school of piping and drumming – Summerblast! – has had outstanding support – and enrolment. So much so that the school has found the need to add an additional piping instructor. Scotland-based Pipe Major Ian Duncan has cleared his calendar and adjusted time zones to join the Summerblast! team of teachers.

The school is set to start Monday, July 5 at 10:00 am EDT!

The registration deadline is June 11. Click here to sign-up.

Ian Duncan is a household name in the world of piping. Under his leadership, his Vale of Atholl Pipe Band was among the world’s leaders in concert presentation and musical innovation – and prize-winning! As a successful soloist he received tuition from the great Bob Brown and Bob Nichol (the Bobs of Balmoral) and is today a much sought-after teacher and adjudicator.

Welcome, Ian, to Summerblast!

Announcing “Up Yer Game!” Masterclass Series

Tuesday June 1st, 2021

Nine-event virtual series kicks off Saturday June 12th 

The Pipers’ & Pipe Band Society of Ontario is upping its game with new educational opportunities! Running alongside Ontario’s virtual competition season from June to August, a series of nine Zoom sessions will offer insight, inspiration, and entertainment for pipers and drummers of all abilities.

The series launches on Saturday June 12th with Open Band Hall. This ninety-minute session, led by PPBSO Music Committee member Trish Kirkwood, takes attendees behind the scenes of three member bands. Trish will be joined by P/M Tyler Bridge, Guelph Pipe Band; P/M John Cairns, Peel Regional Police Pipe Band; and P/M Doug MacRae, 78th Fraser Highlanders. Each band offers a short, behind-the-scenes tour of the methods they have each used to conduct effective virtual practices throughout the pandemic.  A question and answer period with the audience and pipe majors follows the presentation.

Attendance is free for all PPBSO members in good standing; non-members pay $10 CAD. To receive the session Zoom link, registration for each session is required here.

The series will also include two sessions on managing performance anxiety and stress, delivered by UK-based sport and performance psychology and master life coach Dr. Fiona McConnochie. Fiona’s expertise is in high demand in the piping and drumming community, and she has previously delivered workshops on this topic at Glasgow’s Piping Live! Festival.

In August, PPBSO president Michael Grey will lead a session on the evolution of the 2/4 march. Along with piobaireachd, the 2/4 competition march stands as a branch of piping that was invented by pipers, for pipers. Discover the historical beginnings of this idiom, and how it has evolved into the music form we recognize today.

A range of masterclasses on solo piping, drumming, and tenor drumming will round out the series, offering a glimpse into the methods of musical instruction and performance motivation at various grade levels, delivered by some of the world’s leading teachers.

This series has been created with the creativity, expertise, and volunteer hours of PPBSO members, offering an opportunity for members to convene on games day throughout the summer. 

For full event details, and to register for all of the sessions, click here.

To keep up to date with the series, and all news and announcements from the PPBSO, follow the PPBSO Facebook page.

PPBSO Branches

PPBSO Office

President: Michael Grey
Vice President:Chris Dodson
Secretary: Michele Curtis
Treasurer: John Allen

Administration

Administrator: Sharon Duthart
Chief Steward: Glenn Covert
Ombudsman: Ken Eller

Niagara/Hamilton