Solo Piping Judges’ Association introduce a new mentoring system 


The Solo Piping Judges Association (SPJA) held a well-attended annual general meeting online, Sunday October 16.  The Association welcomed the return of live solo piping events during 2022 and observed that this had been a successful season despite the two-year hiatus effected by the Covid-19 Pandemic. 

Colin MacLellan, Euan Anderson and Roddy Livingstone were re-elected as Chair, Treasurer and Secretary, to serve a further 12 months in their respective roles. The meeting saw the retiral, by rotation, of two committee members, Bruce Hitchings and Dr. Angus MacDonald. Colin MacLellan thanked Bruce and Angus for their valuable contributions to the association’s work, especially having previously agreed to extend their tenures to provide stability during the uncertainty of the past two years. Logan Tannock and Jim McGillivray were elected to fill the resulting vacancies and will serve for a period of three years. 

The meeting ratified the introduction of a mentoring programme for newly appointed judges which will commence with immediate effect. The programme is available to all new judges register, irrespective of status (Approved / Senior) on appointment. All new judges will participate in the programme, receiving guidance and support from a cadre of experienced Senior Adjudicators. 

Details of the programme as follows: 

Solo Piping Judges’ Association Proposal for a Mentoring System for Judges 

  • A pool of Senior Judges who are prepared to volunteer their services as mentors to new judges will be formed. 
  • The mentoring process will be available to all new judges irrespective of their initial grading on acceptance. New judges will be required to fully participate in the programme. 
  • The mentoring process will last for a period of one year and will include a full season of piping competitions. 
  • The new judge will arrange to attend three hour-long sessions with the Advisory Judge/Mentor during the year. The sessions may be ‘in-person’ or via video conference platforms such as Zoom or Skype. 
  • The new judge will be actively involved in judging engagements throughout the season. 
  • The role of the Senior Judge will be to act as an advisor/mentor and to make himself/herself available for the three, hour-long coaching sessions. The Senior Judge will also provide guidance on best practices when judging with the new judge. The new judge will provide written or verbal feedback from judging assignments during the coaching sessions. 
  • The SPJA will consult with the major competition organisers (Argyllshire Gathering, Northern Meeting, London and others) and seek approval for the proposal to allow the new judge to be granted permission to sit in an observational capacity on the judges’ bench at one of the major competitions*. The new judge will not take part in the decision-making process, but will benefit from further coaching by the mentor at a major competition. 
  • At the conclusion of the year-long mentoring process, both the Senior Judge and the new judge will submit written reports to the Chairman of the SPJA. The Chairman will discuss the reports with the SPJA committee and recommend one of the following actions: − Recommend that the mentoring period has been successfully completed. 
  • Recommend that a further mentoring period with a different Senior Judge is necessary. 

*It is anticipated that this could be accommodated by allowing the new judge to act as timekeeper during the competition before retiring with the judging panel to observe the process which leads to the creation of the final result. Other options to achieve this objective whilst respecting the status of the panel could also be considered. It may be that during the process the new judge may be able to ask questions if time allows but will not be allowed to contribute anything which may affect the judgement of the panel. The new judge should continue to be remindful that the confidentiality of the bench must be respected at all times, allowing consistency with the SPJA Code of Conduct of which he/she is a signatory.