Competitions

Competitions are a fantastic way to improve your playing abilities and socialise with other members of the piping, drumming and pipe band community.

Solo events in Queensland are run by the Queensland Highland Pipers’ Society, and band events are run by Pipe Bands Queensland.

Why compete?

  • Test yourself against players 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 for band competitions) to work further and harder towards improvement than you otherwise might.

Ongoing improvement

While competition is a fantastic way to challenge yourself 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, view the ‘Education and musical development’ section on our resources page for a number of online education options, or contact us for suggestions.


Solo competitions

Queensland Highland Pipers’ Society runs competitions for piping and drumming soloists at all skill levels, across six grades.

You don’t have to be a member to enter, but members get discounts on entries and a host of other benefits. Learn more about joining QHPS.

We encourage players to compete as much as possible – there is no better way to challenge yourselves to improve your performance skills and musical ability, catch up with other players, and continue to foster and grow a supportive and fun piping and drumming community. 

Soloists are graded by judgements of their skill level, generally according to results from past competitions. You can view the full list of rules on the Solo competition rules page.

How it works

Before the competition

First, to compete in events that are administered by Queensland Highland Pipers’ Society, you will need research and find a competition to enter – visit our Events page for all upcoming competitions (search for solo 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 event times, as these are strictly adhered to on the day. 

Familiarise yourself with the standard rules for competition to ensure your musical selection meets the criteria for competition. If you have any questions about musical selection or how rules are administered for solo competitions, contact us

On the day of competition, arrive with plenty of time to allow for registration, 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 Queensland Highland Pipers’ Society competitions; read our Uniform details and maintenance page for more information).

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

Be prepared to tune and compete in advance of your assigned time, just in case there are participants 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 competition area. Each event is assigned to a judge who will listen to all players in the list, determine the top places, and provide valuable notes and feedback on your score sheet which you will retrieve at the registration table after the end of the contest.

The judge is assisted by a steward, a volunteer who is usually standing near the judge’s station with a clipboard. You are responsible for letting the steward know you are there, and checking the contest schedule with them.

Note that a competition may run ahead or behind time, so it’s a good idea to check in with the steward about ten minutes before you’re due to start. If the steward cannot find you when the judge is ready to hear you, you may be disqualified and not permitted to compete – this is at the judge’s and steward’s discretion.

When you are called up to the starting line, wait for the steward to give you the signal that it’s ok to begin. Introduce yourself and your tune to the judge, then take a moment to breathe, gather your thoughts, and focus before striking up.

You have plenty of time, so get your instrument humming and tuned as well as you can, before playing your music to the best of your ability.

When you have finished, wait for the judge to finish their score sheet – they may want to debrief with you on the spot, or they will give you a signal to move on and for the next competitor to begin.

If you have another event to play in, you can prepare for that, or relax, watch other players compete, and wait for the prize ceremony and score sheets to become available.

After the competition

After all players in all grades have competed and judges have handed in their score sheets, prizes will be awarded. After this has happened, players can go to the QHPS volunteer table to collect their score sheets.

If you have any questions about your 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 placings for each event.


Band competitions

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.

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.