Ed Neigh Memorial Trophy
awarded to the A Division Piping Knockout Series winner
The Ed Neigh Memorial trophy has been awarded annually since 2016 in memory of the Ontario based piper Ed Neigh (1945-2015). Ed’s influence on the Ontario and North American piping scene was profound. He was Pipe Major of the Guelph Pipe Band in the 1970s and 1980s, and taught countless numbers of students over nearly 50 years.
The following is an excerpt from “Ed Neigh: a personal piping recollection“, copied here with permission from its author Jim McGillivray at pipetunes.ca, and from Andrew Berthoff at pipes|drums. In this passage, Jim talks about his initial experiences with Ed after joining the Guelph Pipe Band in 1970.
I learned the band repertoire and Ed started giving me solo lessons after band practice. Solo lessons were part of the package. Ed believed your band got better as your individual players improved. Everyone was encouraged to compete. I was introduced to piobaireachd forthwith (“Black Donald’s March”) and as summer approached Ed suggested I forget about Grade 3 Amateur (I had earned just one third place the previous summer) and enter Grade 2. I was shocked, but I did as I was told. To my surprise I earned consistent prizes in my new grade immediately and won the first amateur piobaireachd contest I played in. Ed dragged me toward those prizes in spite of myself. He gave me the tools, built my confidence and I never looked back.
Such was piping life with the whirlwind of Ed Neigh. He could take you places you thought you had no business going. The smartest thing I did as his student was simply do everything he told me to do. We thrived on each other’s enthusiasm and I thrived on his knowledge and his ability and eagerness to impart it.
Those were the days just after medleys were first introduced into band competitions. Ed quickly became an innovator. He was never afraid to put off-the-wall ideas on the chanter table at practice. He pushed the envelope, and while many of his innovations might seem primitive by modern standards, they were gems for their day. Ed’s willingness to experiment and go out on a limb made the Guelph Pipe Band of the mid-1970s one of the most exciting medley bands of its time.
Without doubt the best example of Ed’s courage in taking new ideas public was the day he brought a Korg Chromatic Tuner to band practice. He had it all figured out from the get-go: “All you have to do,” he announced in that booming, growly voice he used when he got excited, “is find the best bagpipe in the band, take a reading off the drones, tune all the drones to that reading, then listen to each bagpipe individually and tune each chanter to the drones! It’s exactly backwards to the way we usually tune! Drones first, and then chanters. Ya just tune yer band up backwards!”.
It sounded crazy, but it was piping genius. The first time he went around the band and brought all the drones into line we were stunned into submission. We started taking the meter to the games and endured ruthless ridicule from pipe band old schoolers who badgered us with, “What’s wrang wi’ yer lugs?” (“What’s wrong with your ears?”) But soon pipe majors began strolling over to watch our tune-ups. Within a year a small number of bands were following suit. Before long no band worth its salt could be found at the games without a tuning meter, and it was those without who were being mocked. We can all thank Ed Neigh for what is now standard equipment in the pipe band world and for the substantial rise in the quality of pipe band sound that resulted from it.
Read the full article here.
A Division Piping Knockout Champions