Fall 2000, Editorial:
The comedian Rodney Dangerfield had only one memorable line: "I don't get
no respect". Although he was referring to himself (with good reason!), I'd
like to re-write his line to read "THEY don't get no respect". "THEY" are
a group of hardworking pipers and drummers who, in spite of their efforts,
their attendance at a wide variety of competitions, their participation in
bands, and their intense desire to do well, frequently seem to be
considered by many to be faintly ridiculous.
I refer to men and women who participate in the "Adult Class" at solo
competitions. Having taught many adults, some of whom are now competing
solo and doing very well, and having met and competed against many of the
pipers, let me give you a few facts about adult players:
1. Most of them, to my knowledge, practice regularly and prepare for their
2. They are supporters and participants in games from Comox to Seattle to
Penticton and further afield.
3. They get nervous when they compete.
4. They like, as most competitors do, to win.
5. They want to have a good sound.
6. They want to receive constructive criticism from the judges which is
neither patronizing nor condescending.
7. They want to be better players.
8. They are proud of what they do.
9. They know they'll never be Gold Medal winners.
10. Most adult players are more critical of themselves than a teacher or
judge would be.
11. They are doing it for the love of the music.
12. They're nice people.
Most of these players learned late in life, trying to wrap 30, 40, or
50-year-old fingers around a chanter (or a drumstick) when they could be
just pressing the remote to go channel surfing. Starting "late" takes as
much, if not more, determination, nerve, and sheer will power than that
which is required by the youngest and most talented. Some of them have
been playing for a significant period of time, but advancing age does odd
things to finger joints, arm strength, and back muscles. Still, they
continue to take pleasure from doing what they have worked long and hard to
It's interesting that in Scotland, where if you didn't learn the pipes as a
youngster you didn't learn at all, there has been a fairly recent and rapid
increase in the number of adults wanting to take lessons; wanting to live
part of their heritage. Just last summer (1999), a houseguest of ours from
Glasgow commented with some surprise on the number of adults new to their
instruments actively competing and participating here. Over the last
winter, the College of Piping has noted an increase in their adult
students, and the Eastern U.S. as well. There are lots of adult players,
and there will be more. Why not give them some respect? Not just the
appearance, but that which is meaningful and, above all, honest.
These men and women need the support of other competitors and participants.
They need your support. They need my support. They need a pat on the
back once in a while from all of us to say "thanks for competing", "thanks
for trying", "thanks for doing your best"; "thanks for being here".
Editor, B.C. Pipers Association Communications