Pipe Bands Australia Adds New Grade

Pipe Bands Australia have sent this…

An annual ballot of bands was conducted in March and last month members of national council considered all proposals that had been supported by a majority of bands voting in the ballot. Council and national management committee also considered throughout April and May additional feedback on all proposals that included endorsement of a collective decision by branch chairman to defer a determination on proposals to amend to player registration periods and moving to places (rankings) at all contests for discussion at the 2019 biennial conference following agreement of branch chairmen.

A proposal received that calls for amendment to registration criteria for a band has also been listed for discussion at the September conference.

The 34 bands who participated in the ballot are thanked for their invaluable contribution to this important process of engagement and decision making, guiding national council and national management committee.

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National council formally adopted the proposal to create Grade 4B in Australia, now providing a competition grading and music structure that mostly mirrors those of the world’s major championships and provides support in preparation at our contests for those bands entering contests in Scotland.

The ballot and council decision also adopted the proposal for juvenile band grades based on the trial rules introduced following discussion at the 2017 biennial conference and consultation with all juvenile bands.

The Grade 4B and juvenile grading proposals were amended prior to adoption:

  • Juvenile grading – Following consultation and review including ballot feedback, that this proposal based on the trial rule was amended and adopted to read: That music shall be from a prescribed tune list.
  • Grade 4A and Grade 4B – Following consultation and review including ballot feedback, that this proposal was amended and adopted to create Grade 4B to read: (2) The music for Grade 4b shall be 4 x 2-part march music. Music from the prescribed tune list


National Grading Committee will develop the criteria for Grade 4A and Grade 4B and invite branch grading committees to assist in reviewing of all bands currently allocated to Grade 4 and those bands currently unallocated in conjunction with timetabled branch grading reviews. Grading processes will be completed by 31 July 2019 and apply from 1 September 2019.

Where a band is allocated to Grade 4A, attention is drawn to the opportunities under the Rules of Pipe Bands Australia to develop a No 2 band to continue the building of pathways for less-experienced players and advancing learner pipers and drummers. These Rules include allowing for a] player to be registered with the No 1 band as piper and the No 2 band as a drummer (or vice versa), b] dual registration allowing a piper or drummer to play up a grade and c] tutors.

National management committee has determined the pipe major/lead drummer within the same band entity (band with multiple competition bands) will be available to the band’s registered No 2 registered band.


The Rules of Pipe Bands Australia allow for the offering of contests for graded bands and for juvenile bands.

With the formal introduction of juvenile band grades and the creation of Grade 4B, it will be a matter for branches in consultation with promoters to determine whether to offer a] both grade and juvenile grade contests, b] the juvenile grade/s prizes to be determined by the highest placed performance in a graded competition or c] offer a contest only for Grades 1-4B.

Juvenile bands will be allocated both a juvenile grade and an “open” grade.

It is noted that 2020 Australian Pipe Band Championships will offer separate Juvenile grade contests. The scheduled Grade 4 selection of marches will become Grade 4B.


The prescribed tune list of Pipe Bands Australia will comprise any tunes on the RSPBA list from time to time in addition to any tunes submitted by bands and endorsed by the Principal Piping or tunes included on the Australian list by the Principals Piping, Drumming and Ensemble (acting as a music board advising national council/national management committee). Until 30 June 2020, a tune (including simple time marches where applicable) played by a band in competition in applicable grades will be deemed to have been included on the transitionary prescribed list.  The list will be further reviewed before 30 June 2020.

Other ballot proposals adopted by national council were:

  • Contests for groups of players – Following review of feedback and to achieve consistency, the proposal based on the trial rule was amended and adopted to read: D 3.01.01 A branch may sanction a promotor to hold any of the following contests, being a duo, trio, quartet and quintet contest; and D 3.04.01 The determination and application of grading is at the discretion of branch in consultation with the promoter.
  • Contests (offering of marching elements at Australian championships) – Following consultation and review including ballot feedback, this proposal was amended and adopted to read: B.1.01.02 (3) [include] one or more marching elements as prescribed in the Contest Regulations (except for a Juvenile band contest) not included in any aggregate result. Where the quickstep, limited area quickstep or display is offered, these shall be optional.
  • Music Requirements: Adoption of proposal based on trial rules that included adjustment of medley times in Grades 1, 2 and 3 to reflect RSPBA and draw at line for MSRs in Grade 2.

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