Predictions 2019: fearless forecasts for the year ahead

Published: January 03, 2019

It’s back! pipes|drums brings you fearless forecasts for the year ahead.

We approached a bunch of famous pipers and drummers from around the world asking them to send us their quick predictions in four categories:

  • Bands
  • Solo Piping and Drumming
  • Associations
  • Miscellaneous

We looked through what they returned, and identified several trends. We haven’t included every prediction here, but made sure that the ones that were made more than once are in our list.

As usual, we’re keeping our prognosticators anonymous, since we want them to speak freely. We asked each, though, not to be self-serving. The editor of pipes|drums did not participate.

Ultimately, it’s all in fun, and should be taken only as seriously as you wish. Thanks to those who sent us their predictions.



  • The most tightly contested Grade 1 UK season yet will be 2019, with four bands sharing major titles throughout the season. Toss a coin on the day of the World’s as to who wins a second major out of that group. That’s about as good a guess as anyone’s.

  • Johnstone will break into the top-six at one or more of the five majors.

  • MacKenzie Caledonian will take the Grade 2 World’s title.

  • With fewer Grade 1 bands globally, will there be a need for the Friday qualifier at the World’s?

  • The top eight Grade 1 bands will continue to improve, creating greater divide between the rest of the Grade 1 bands. Time for a Grade 1A and 1B.

  • Grade 1 in Ontario will continue to suffer due to the lack of competitive drum sections.

  • In North America, there will be an increased focus on bass and tenor competitions and opportunities to elevate the position of bass and tenor players.

  • There will be some changes in the top-six at World’s.

  • The resurgent Simon Fraser University will edge out Field Marshal Montgomery for the top prize.

  • The soaring quality of Grade 1 makes it difficult for all bands to compete at the highest level, and those on the periphery will wobble and fall.

  • The top end of Grade 1 will be competitive with few bands continuing to contend for the majors.

  • Watch for Field Marshal Montgomery, Inveraray & District and St. Laurence O’Toole to each take at least one major in 2019, and ScottishPower to take one, or come very close.

  • Grade 2 will continue to be a strong and competitive field as some Grade 1 bands step back to Grade 2 to maintain stability. Bands such as Peel Police, LA Scots and St. Thomas Alumni will continue to thrive at this level.

  • The increasing competitive nature of Grade 2 may see a stronger focus on the legitimacy of band rosters in that grade, making it harder for bands to add players before travelling to Scotland.

  • The RSPBA will announce a limit on pipe corps numbers, limiting membership to 25 and side drummers to eight. The mid-section numbers will remain unlimited. They will also relax the competitive requirement to play in a circle.



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