February 28, 2011

Solo piping prizes on the rise in Scotland

In the late-1800s and early-1900s it was possible for the best solo pipers in Scotland to earn a living from competing around the games. While those days are long gone, solo prize money at many Scottish Highland games have been on the rise, and the latest increase is from the Montrose Highland Games, which has just added a prize of £200 to go to the aggregate winner of the solo piping events.

Montrose had already established itself as one of the more lucrative events on the Scottish summer schedule, along with contests at North Berwick and Airth, which also award several hundred pounds in each event.

Competitions are improving prize purses mainly by securing sponsorships from corporations. Montrose has just gained funding by Archibold Accountancy, and the overall award will be called “The Archibold Accountancy Senior Piping Championship.”

“It’s nice to see these events gain prestige by adding more prize-money,” said a Scottish solo piper who asked not to be named. “The ones with the poor prizes are not nearly as well attended, at least by the better players.”

By contrast, first-prize for the regular Professional solo piping events at the large majority of North American Highland games is generally about $100.


  1. Here is the Gold medal prizes for the R.U. Brown Gold Medal (Open) in South Australia by comparison. In addition generous travel allowances are paid to competitors. Prize Monies: Piobaireachd-$1000, $600, $300, $150, $75 MSR: $400, $200, $100, $50, $25 Hornpipe/Jig: $400, $200, $100, $50, $25

  2. Sponsorship is definitely the way to go for solo competitions. I also think they do better as a ‘stand alone’ event. Solo competitions at major outdoor Games are basically a non-event. They most certainly DO NOT appeal to the paying public; and actually, not even amongst other pipers and drummers. As can be seen in the photo accompanying this article, no-one is watching. You can go to any major outdoor event and spectators are practically nonexistent; even for the top professional players. The poor people in the lower grades are lucky if a relative or friend even turns up to watch. Specific solo events, funded by a generous sponsor, are the way to go.



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