Pipe Bands Queensland runs competitions for pipe bands at all skill levels, across six grades.

We encourage all bands to compete as much as possible – there is no better way to challenge yourselves as a group to improve musical performance, raise the collective level of our musical ability, catch up with other bands, and continue to foster and grow a supportive and fun pipe band community. 

Pipe Bands Queensland oversees that the national set of rules and regulations for pipe bands are applied fairly to competitions that we administrate – this assures competitors that rules, standards, and judging are applied as consistently as possible across Australia, and are consistent with international standards (particularly the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association).

Bands are graded by judgements of their skill level, generally according to results from past competitions. 

The Pipe Bands Australia (PBA) Grading Committee reviews requests from bands periodically to determine who should move to the next grade. PBA takes its band grading duties very seriously for two reasons – firstly, because competing against bands who are far above or below your own skill level is not valuable; but more importantly, to maintain grading standards with the rest of the world, so that our players can compete well at any competition, whether in Australia or internationally.

Solo competitions in Queensland are not overseen by Pipe Bands Queensland; they are run by the Queensland Highland Piper’s Society.

Why compete?

  • Test yourself with bands of a similar skill level and place or win medals, ribbons, trophies (and bragging rights!).
  • Receive valuable, on-the-spot feedback about your playing abilities from some of the best players in the world.
  • Work towards set deadlines that will push you and your band to work further and harder towards improvement than you otherwise might.

Ongoing improvement

While competition is a fantastic way to challenge yourselves as a group to improve, it is certainly not the only way.

We encourage all bands and players to leverage the many resources available to help with improvement – particularly by engaging with a tutor, mentor or other advanced player who can help you improve your playing skills and/or lead less experienced bands through the competition process. 

See our Education page for more information about sources of this kind of tuition and support, or contact us for suggestions.

How it works

Before the competition

First, to compete in events that are administered by Pipe Bands Queensland, you will need to join as a member.

Next, you will need to research and find a competition to enter – visit our Events page for all upcoming band events. 

Follow the instructions on the relevant event’s page to register (these can differ for each competition depending on the organiser), and note that registration deadlines are usually 2–4 weeks before the competition date.

You should receive an email confirming your registration – familiarise yourself with the performance times and communicate these clearly to your band, as these are strictly adhered to on the day. 

Bands should also familiarise themselves with the standard rules for competition to ensure their musical selection meets the criteria for performance. If you have any questions about musical selection or how rules are administered for band competitions, contact us

On the day of competition, bands are encouraged to arrive with plenty of time to allow for registration, setting up tents, tuning, and settling nerves. Competitions are usually scheduled so that grades compete from lowest to highest during the day, so arrive prepared and dressed in uniform (highland dress is required for competing in Pipe Bands Queensland competitions; read our Uniform details and maintenance page for more information).

The volunteers at the registration tent should provide you with the location and approximate time of your contest, and any updates to previously supplied information.

Be prepared to tune and and compete in advance of your assigned time, just in case there are bands who registered but don’t attend, or who are disqualified.

At the competition

Do initial tuning up in an assigned area, or a respectful distance from the fine-tuning area. About five minutes prior to your allotted time, you should go to the fine tuning area. A steward will find you and alert the pipe major that you should proceed to the line. Keep an eye out, though, because if the steward cannot find your band when the judging panel is ready to hear you, you may be disqualified and not permitted to compete.

You’ll be judged by several judges, which will include at least one judge each for piping, drumming, ensemble, and dress. Familiarise yourself with the changes to Pipe Bands Queensland’s judging process for 2020.

When you are called up to the starting line, wait for the steward to give you the signal that it’s ok to begin. Under the direction of your pipe major, take a moment to breathe, gather your thoughts, and focus before marching into the circle.

Play your set, and when you have finished, the band should wait until the steward gives the pipe major direction to leave. Reform and march out under the pipe major’s direction – depending on the competition, this will either be to the tap, or you can play a marching tune to exit the competition field.

After the competition

After all bands in all grades have competed (and usually after massed bands – if there is one – and the announcement of results), Pipe Bands Queensland volunteers will be ready to hand out score sheets. We encourage band leaders to share score sheets with all playing members, so everyone can see feedback and know where to focus effort in future to continue to improve. 

If you have any questions about scoring or judges comments and/or would like to lodge a challenge, contact us

Within 24 hours of a competition (usually), you can check the Results page to see the mastersheets that show the overview of how all bands scored.

Still have questions?

We’re here to help. Contact us with any queries and we’ll try to help you find an answer or guide you through the process.