PPBSO makes no band re-grades; Johnstone elevated to Professional solo piping
The Pipers & Pipe Band Society has regraded none of its member bands for the 2024 competition season, and only one solo piper was moved to the Professional class.
The organization’s Music Committee proposed that Kayleigh Johnstone of Aurora, Ontario, be elevated to Professional in both Piobaireachd and Light Music. The association’s board of directors officially approved the recommendation.
After the Peel Regional Police were undefeated in Grade 2 on the 2023 Ontario circuit, some thought the band might be moved to Grade 1. While Peel enjoyed a perfect year locally, the band was ninth in Grade 2 in the 20-band competition decided by a single MSR performance at the World Championships.
Having another year to help elevate our standard even further is an important step to ensuring we can be a little more competitive at the Grade 1 level. – Peel Police Pipe-Major John Cairns
When asked his thoughts about his band not being upgraded, Pipe-Major John Cairns said, “We have spent the last number of years (since our downgrade) trying to rebuild the band with a strong local base. We have made terrific strides in that direction, but many of our players (especially the younger ones) could certainly use one more year in Grade 2 to help them better prepare for the Grade 1 level. We would need to have the support of the RSPBA as well.
“The last thing we want is to be graded differently here than overseas. [We don’t want to] return to Grade 1 and be at the bottom of the pile . . . simply trying ‘not to be last’ again. Having another year to help elevate our standard even further is an important step to ensuring we can be a little more competitive at the Grade 1 level. Our goal is to try and be comparable in standard to the [Grade 1] bands that were around tenth place at this year’s World’s.”
Kayleigh Johnstone joins her older brother, Colin, in the Professional solo piping class. She achieved PPBSO Champion Supreme status in Senior Amateur Piobaireachd and Light Music in 2023 and gained the award in 2022 for Senior Amateur Piobaireachd.
The PPBSO divides its piobaireachd grades into “Senior,” “Intermediate,” “Junior,” and “Novice,” opting not to use the more familiar North American amateur Grade 1, 2, etc. format. The system allows some amateur soloists to compete in different levels of light music and piobaireachd, depending on their abilities and experience in each domain.
Upgrades go into effect with the new calendar year. Johnstone’s final competition as an amateur will be at the George Sherriff Memorial Amateur Invitational in Hamilton, Ontario, on November 18th.
No details are known about other solo regradings.