Standing Start for Lower Grade Bands and Development of Medley all Confirmed in Reports to RSPBA AGM

Piping Press continues its look at the reports to this year’s RSPBA AGM held in MArch before the cancellation of all pipe band competitions for 2021. Below we have details of the Association’s finance and grant applications made to cover the difficulties caused by the pandemic. The Music Board reveal a pilot scheme whereby lower grade bands can start from a static position, and also information on liaison with Grade 1 pipe majors and leading drummers over the format of the competition medley. There is also more on the development of online study and competition.

Extracts from the report by Kenny Crothers, Convenor of the Finance, Insurance and Maintenance Committee: It has been an unprecedented year for us all due to Covid 19 and the 2020 season was quickly decimated. The staff are on furlough to comply with the requirements for social distancing and essential work guidance.

The Association received a grant from the 3rd Sector Resilience Fund to help offset running costs of the building, a Coronavirus Small Business Grant, as well as obtaining a Business Bounce Back loan. The Association has been fortunate to receive donations that along with the fees (2019/20) and grants have covered the support and governance costs to date.

A grant application has been made to the ‘Pivotal Event Businesses Fund’, along with our request for help with Covid 19 assistance and adaptation to use online and the web to ‘Adapt and Thrive’ following their change in turnover limit.

There is uncertainty regarding the 2021 Major Championships calendar, and we are discussing 2022 with promoters.



Extracts from the report by Kevin Reilly, Convener, Music Board: This is a sub-group of the RSPBA with responsibility for all matters musical.

Following our January 2020 meeting we decided to move our meetings online and to meet more regularly as well as review our activities and sub-groups. This has proved to be successful and we now have several projects being worked on for the benefits of members and bands.

Kevin Reilly, Music Board Convenor and now Chairman of the RSPBA

The Music Board is responsible to the Board of Directors for all matters and complaints pertaining to Music, Grading, Competition Format and Dress and Deportment. Members of the Music Board have a dual role; members also serve on one of the following sub-groups within the Board: Format Group, Standards and Grading Group, Tunes Group, World Solo Drumming Group.

We also have liaison meetings with the Adjudicators Panel Management Board where we can share and discuss ideas.

Over the past year our focus has been around competition format. This has resulted in a new pilot for Grade 4B/ Novice Juvenile B Bands. Our consultative approach has provided many insights about developing the competition experience.

All Grade Four B and Novice Juvenile B Bands will have the opportunity to participate in a pilot which has a ‘static start‘ at the performance introductory phase. This has now been approved with Board the Board of Directors…

This ‘pilot’ will be run at 2/3 minor competitions and a major competition when we are able to do so. The bands, adjudicators and other stakeholders will then receive a further survey and the results of the pilot will be discussed and published with any outcomes.

The Music Board, through the Format Group, have also been working closely with all the Grade One Pipe Majors and Leading Drummers to explore developments. This style of consultation has broken new ground as a first in creating a global focus group. The success of the initial meeting has now led to smaller working groups to review aspects related to performance, musical content and more.



The Music Board has completed a Competition Format Procedure this covers all aspects of competition, although it is a working document and will develop, it was felt important to share with the Members and Officials. This can be found on the RSPBA website.

The Music Board are also working on ‘online scenarios’ in contrast to traditional online competitions.

We have plans to launch a ‘developmental’ style of online performance working with the Pipe Band College. This will link the individual to where and what they can do to improve their own performance. We also intend to extend this approach with a showcase style of online performance which can include the full band.

The Music Board ‘World Solo Drumming Group’ have been working extremely hard to develop the event. Amongst other things, this has led to the introduction of a new competition which will form part of the event – the World Adult Solo Tenor. Liaison also continues with global partners in how we advance the snare drumming Adult qualification process.

Another key area that has formed part of our deliberations is the ‘easement’ of playing requirements as part of our competition re-start strategy. For example, reducing the numbers of MSR and Medleys at each of the Majors. Further and specific information on this will follow.

Our tunes group are constantly looking to increase and improve the tunes within the prescribed tunes list. Work is ongoing and if you would like tunes added to the list then please make contact via Headquarters where requests will be reviewed.

  • The latest meeting of the RSPBA Board of Directors: ‘An ‘Online together Digital Summer Festival’ was proposed that would ideally lead in to the World Solo Drumming Championships which could provide a stepping stone to a live on site indoor competition. Post summer the bands would be getting back to practice with the prospect of getting back to competitions in 2022. The Music Board, Pipe Band College and APMB are aware of the need to do something to engage the Membership.’
  • In recognition of his many years of service to the Association, former Chairman John Hughes has been granted an Honorary Vice-Presidency of the Association.
  • Work on the Association’s new website has been suspended pending the current pandemic situation.

1 thought on “Standing Start for Lower Grade Bands and Development of Medley all Confirmed in Reports to RSPBA AGM

  1. Re: the “static” start proposal for novice bands. The EUSPBA has given their grade 5 bands that option, i.e. “tap” or “play” into the circle, for many years now. If one considers all the things that could go wrong in the first 30 seconds for ANY grade band, I believe this proposal would be helpful to novice bands.

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