On March 6 and 7, the Roberts Malcolm Alumni (RMA) Pipe Band, one of six pipe bands comprising the Simon Fraser University family of bands, will be visiting Sechelt for two days of intensive practice in preparation for the 2004 competitive season.
The band will be staying at Rockwood Centre and using both the North Wing and the Seaside Centre for practice sessions.
The band is in its second year of existence and has a membership of 22 pipers and drummers. They will be accompanied by instructors from the four-time World Champion SFU Pipe Band who will be working with the band as a whole as well as with individuals.
In 2003, RMA placed second overall in the B.C. Pipers Association Grand Aggregate standings in grade three. The band is led by Pipe Major Rorri McBlane and lead drummer Rick Caines, both long-time members of the SFU organization.
Many RMA members have been in other bands in the organization as juveniles. There are high level solo competitors, pipers and drummers in the band.
Members come from as far afield as Vermont and New Hampshire in the U.S. The bulk of members live in the Lower Mainland and Washington State. The Sechelt connection comes from one of the pipers in the band, myself, a Sechelt resident.
From September to the end of the competition year in late July, RMA conducts regular twice-weekly practices of two hours each at the Burnaby campus of SFU. Members are expected to put in a minimum of an additional five hours a week at home over and above scheduled band practices.
Solo competitors will usually double this, as well as take private instruction. Some RMA members also assist with instruction of junior bands. An intensive two days, at a location with none of the usual distractions of home, work or family, is thought to equal 10 weeks of regular practice and so becomes an important part of the practice schedule.
Anyone interested is invited to observe the sessions on Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. at Seaside Centre. Visitors are reminded that these are practices and not concerts or performances. It's an opportunity to see the commitment necessary to play at this level.
After the Saturday evening session, the public can meet members of the band and ask questions about the organization. The possibility exists that all or part of these sessions will be held at the North Wing at Rockwood Centre rather than at the Seaside Centre. A notice will be posted if this occurs.
The Robert Malcolm Memorial Pipe band organization is named after Robert Barbulak and Malcolm Bokenfoht, two dedicated members of the SFU Pipe Band who were killed in an automobile accident, not of their cause, in November 1993.
The RMM band was formed in January 1994 to continue the development of talented and dedicated players such as Rob Malcolm. Last year marked the 10th anniversary of their deaths.