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News and Notices

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.

Western Branch Kiwanis Contest Kicks-off Championship Supreme Points Gathering!

Saturday May 29th, 2021

The Western Branch of The Pipers’ & Pipe Band Society of Ontario staged another successful amateur solo piping and drumming competition, with support from stalwart partner, service club, Kiwanis International. The branch took advantage of the YouTube platform for their competitive virtual performances. Results were announced live May 23rd on the Western Branch’s Facebook page by Don Elliott, branch President. Prize winners in each category collected the first Championship Supreme points of the PPBSO’s 2021 online competition season.

A reminder 11:59 pm today – Saturday, May 29th is the deadline to get your entry in for the PPBSO’s June 12th Ontario Championships!

Don Elliott, President, Western Branch, PPBSO

Competition results:

Piping – Light Music

#1. Grade 1 – One 2/4 March (4 parts) One Strathspey (4 parts) + One Reel (4 parts)

  1. Caleb Thibodeau
  2. Mark McLennan
  3. Thomas Bruce
  4. Charles David Mitchell  
  5. Ellie Hastings
  6. Alex Klausnitzer

#2. Grade 2 – One 2/4 March (4 parts) One Strathspey (4 parts) + One Reel (4 parts)

  1. Kathleen Lasseter 
  2. Andrea Jones

#3. Grade 3 – One 2/4 March (4 parts) One Strathspey (4 parts) + One Reel (4 parts)

  1. Trent Harris
  2. Evan McConkey
  3. Janelle Bird

#4. Grade 4 – One 2/4 March (4 parts)

  1. Alec MacDonald
  2. Kaiden Sabbadin
  3. Cameron Fradette
  4. Glen Jorgensen
  5. Peter Hummel

#5. Grade 5 – One March (2 parts, any time signature, played once)

  1. Colin Tighe
  2. Caden Straus
  3. Brian Elliott
  4. Brian Sim-Little
  5. Jim Arthur
  6. Ross McLennan

#6. Practice Chanter – One March (2 parts, any time signature, played once)

  1. Zoe Smith

Drumming – Snare

#8. Grade 2 – One 2/4 March (4 parts) + One Strathspey (4 parts) + One Reel (4 parts)

  1. Shahna Summer

#9. Grade 3 – One 2/4 March (4 parts) + One Strathspey (4 parts) + One Reel (4 parts)

  1. Aidan Blacklock

#10. Grade 4 – One 2/4 March (4 parts)

  1. Erica Cheyne
  2. Danny Tighe

#11. Grade 5 – One 2/4 March (2 parts, played once)

  1. Conor Blacklock

Drumming – Tenor

#13. Grade 1 – One 2/4 March (minimum 4 parts) + One Strathspey (minimum 4 parts) + One Reel (minimum 4 parts)

  1. Andrea Jackson

#17. Grade 5 – One 2/4 March (2 parts, played once)

  1. Kyrianna Jorgenson
  2. Graham Carroll

Drumming – Bass

#18. Amateur – One 2/4 March (minimum 4 parts) + One Strathspey (minimum 4 parts) + One Reel (minimum 4 parts)

  1. Drew Ellis

Judges for the PPBSO’s Online Season!

Wednesday May 26th, 2021

The Pipers’ & Pipe Band Society of Ontario’s online season of six events will get underway in three weeks with an international panel of seasoned judges to help support competitions. The first “games” is the Ontario Online Championships, June 12. Entry deadline for all competitions is two weeks before each contest day making May 29 (this coming Saturday!) the last day to submit your entry for the Ontario Championships.

Judges for the season have been scheduled and are as follows:

Ontario Championships – June 12, 2021 – Tyler Bridge, Ross Brown, John Cairns, Amy Garson, Michael Grey, Eddie Gorman, Bill Livingstone, Ian K MacDonald, Richard Parkes, MBE, (Northern Ireland), Stuart Samson, MBE (Scotland), Bob Worrall (Piping); Jamie Alfred (B&T); Drew Duthart (Snare) 

Embro Highland Games Online – July 1, 2021 – Ian Duncan (Scotland), Chris Dodson, John Elliott, Michael Grey, Ronnie McShannon (Scotland) (Piping); Mike Cole (USA); (B&T); Graham Brown (USA) (Snare)

Kincardine Online – July 10, 2021 – Tyler Harris, Trish Kirkwood, Bill Livingstone, Calum MacDonald, Dr Angus MacDonald (Scotland) (Piping); Ryan Robertson (B&T); Steven Hill (Snare)

PPBSO Championships – July 17, 2021 – Ian K MacDonald, Glenna Mackay-Johnstone, Linda MacKay, Allan MacKenzie, Colin MacLellan (Scotland) (Piping); Stevie McQuillan (Scotland); (B&T), Mark Wilson (Northern Ireland) (Snare)

Glengarry Highland Games Online – July 31, 2021 – Norm MacDonald, Doug MacRae, Jim McGillivray, Ellen Mole, John Wilson (Scotland); Niall West (Scotland) (B&T); Paul Brown (Scotland) (Snare)

Fergus – Canadian Championships – August 14, 2021 – Heather Purvis, Jim Scott, Peter Sinclair, Dr Jack Taylor (Scotland), Brian Williamson, Bob Worrall (Piping); Trevor Buckley (Northern Ireland) (B&T), Graham Kirkwood (Snare)

“Big Kris” Bawden, Chair of the PPBSO Communications Committee and host of the the Big Morning Show on 101.1 FM will announce all prizes live on the PPBSO’s Facebook page at the end of each “games day” accompanied by video highlights of the day’s performances.

Click here to get playing!

PPBSO & present a 75th Anniversary Composing Competition

Monday May 17th, 2021

The Pipers’ and Pipe Band Society of Ontario (PPBSO) in partnership with has launched a tune composition contest to help commemorate its 75th anniversary in 2022. The association is calling on pipers of all abilities to put their creativity to paper by submitting a new march composition.

The event has two categories: a 2/4 march (4 parts), open to worldwide entries and a 4/4 march (two parts), open to PPBSO members in good standing. The tune titles submitted must include reference to the 75th anniversary. 

“The competition is a great opportunity to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the PPBSO. In addition to the prizes for the top 3 entries in each category, the winning 4/4 march will be issued as a set tune to be performed by the massed bands at PPBSO games in 2022. This really makes the tune and its composer a feature element of how we celebrate this milestone.” says Chris Dodson, PPBSO vice-president, who is leading the initiative. has generously donated the the first prize purse for the 2/4 march category. Cash prizes of $1000, $250, and $200 ($CAD) will be awarded to the top three selections. “Encouraging our members, of all abilities, to write original music is an opportunity to develop knowledge of music theory and our genre of music. There are certainly some great tune ideas bouncing around inside someone’s head, just waiting to be heard.” says Jim McGillivray, owner of and Chair of the PPBSO Music Committee.  

The top three selections in the 4/4 march category will have their 2022 PPBSO membership prepaid, and the winner will also receive a full-size engraved practice chanter generously donated by McCallum Bagpipes

All entries will be jointly adjudicated by Bill Livingstone and Bob Worrall, who are donating their time and expertise to this initiative. In evaluating the compositions submitted, they will consider originality, musicality and adherence to the idiom.

Contest judges Bill Livingstone and Bob Worrall

Entries must be submitted to the PPBSO’s Wild Apricot platform. There is no entry fee, and no cap on the number of entries. Pipers are encouraged to enter both categories, but only one entry per category will be accepted. Entries must be received by Sunday 18th July 2021. Members of the Board of the PPBSO are not eligible to participate.

Compositions must be submitted in PDF format as either a handwritten manuscript or by music writing software. Entries must also include a link to an unlisted YouTube video of the tune being performed by the composer, or someone else; the video performance will be a reference to the adjudicators, but the calibre of the performance will not be considered in the assessment of the quality of the composition. 

The PPBSO will format the winning entries in music writing software and publish them on the PPBSO website. The videos of the winning performances will be uploaded to the PPBSO YouTube channel and other social media. Composers will retain all applicable copyrights.

Interested composers can click on the following links to make their submission:

  1. PPBSO Members-only: 4/4 march entry
  2. Open-to-everyone: 2/4 march entry

Though some inadvertent similarities with existing tunes are inevitable, any clear evidence of plagiarism with published or well-known unpublished material will result in disqualification.

The winning tunes will be announced as part of the results announcement at the conclusion of the virtual Fergus Scottish Festival on August 14th – in their 75th Anniversary year!

Register with Summer Blast! by May 31 to win big!

Friday May 14th, 2021

There will be a draw on May 31 for the set of Traditional Small Pipes in the key of A being donated by Scotts Highland Services to Summer Blast 2021

All registered students, including those who were eligible for the Early Bird draw at the end of April will be eligible for this draw.  So, complete your registration now to be able to win this amazing prize valued at $649!

17 days left until the draw!  And, remember that registrations will close on June 11.  

Bob Worrall, Director, Summer Blast!

PPBSO Branches

PPBSO Office

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


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