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2020 in review

posted Dec 31, 2020, 3:02 PM by Michael Flight   [ updated Jan 2, 2021, 1:00 PM ]

The 2020 COVID pandemic has marked a generation, where the least of its impact was to bring the Globe’s economy to a virtual halt, the preventive lock-down, and the cancellation of public events.  In the pipe band world, this meant no massive events and competitions, no Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, no pipe band practices as we knew them, and the list goes on…


The World adapted as possible, and coined the new normal way of living.  A good part of our lifestyles resorted to online tools to stay in touch, work and learn.  We were somewhat forced to revisit these technologies, and this modern-day Renaissance resulted in a number of online workshops, interviews, lessons, competitions and practices that kept us connected during 2020.  But these new approaches have proven to be effective ways to continue working beyond this crisis, especially during the two-year periods in between the South American Gatherings.


2020 was for SPBASA a non-Gathering year, following the two-year cadence held since 2015 and the 8th Gathering in October 2019.  During these non-Gathering years, we have typically worked on internal and long-term initiatives, while in Gathering years the time and attention is dedicated mostly to the upcoming Gathering.  This year started by reviewing the lessons learned from the past Gatherings, meeting notes, initiatives and projects; and the most significant achievements of 2020 are listed following:



Snare drumming workshops with Rhythm Monster: what started as an interview with world-renowned percussionist Michael Eagle, resulted in a 12-month train-the-trainer agreement with Rhythm Monster for South American Leading Drummers.  Rhythm Monster specializes in online/distance learning programs and content, and is supported by a conglomerate of the most talented drumming teachers worldwide.


Massed Bands best practices: our Massed Bands parades are

our most exposed performances, as we often do these in front of a larger number of people who attend the actual Gatherings and competitions.  More so, the Massed Band parades are how SPBASA comes together to support the local pipebanding in that city.  Upon reviewing video and photographic footage, we compiled a list of the best practices that we expect to have the greatest positive impact to our parades.  A lot of this list was in fact driven by experiences from South American players at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.


Membership registration and 2020 Roster: 2020 was the 3rd consecutive year in which pipe bands register their members using the Association’s present tools and processes.  This annual exercise is used for membership registration (e.g. for competitions), as well as for statistical uses and analytics.  We expanded this year’s roster to groups other than pipe bands (e.g. Dance Corps), and we will continue to work on the most efficient ways to get valuable insight from this data.  Our next registration process will be in June 2021, please contact your respective SPBASA Representative for more details.


Additions to the Competition Catalogue: since our first competitions in 2010, these have proven to be an effective incentive to become better in our art-form.  With this ultimate goal in mind, we have throughout the years built a Competition Catalogue detailing what competitors and event organizers need to know and expect for a sanctioned competition.  This Catalogue is the combination of Competition Entities (who competes) and Competition Categories (the actual competitions).  This year we worked on the Mini Pipe Band competition, where the Roster results from 2020 have shown that this category has a lot of potential for the years to come.


Youth Leagues: we have in South America a number of pipe bands (and initiatives within pipe bands) formed by relatively young players, and our Association strives in many ways to ensure that the next generation of players is better than the present one.  With this in mind, SPBASA has approved the creation of the Youth [competition] Leagues.  As with the competitions in general, this concept aims to provide an incentive for younger players to get better, but by competing on common grounds among each other.


Code of Conduct: Camaraderie and mutual respect has always been at the center of SPBASA values and culture, and are the solid grounds over which all our achievements have been built.  This organizational treasure needs to be guarded, and our new Code of Conduct sets clear boundaries to what will not be tolerated by SPBASA, as well as what will/will-not be addressed within SPBASA (vs. local authorities).


2020 Wrap-Up Facebook Live: catalyzed by the year’s technological resurgence, SPBASA did a FB live broadcasting to summarize and present the achievements of this singular year.  This session was viewed across the Continent and overseas, and remains available for viewing and commenting through our FB Group.




We take this opportunity to wish you a Happy New Year, and all the best for 2021!  Stay safe, keep piping, keep drumming, keep dancing, the Scottish Way! ;-)