May 13, 2014

RSPBA moves Stuart Highlanders to Grade 1; still in Grade 2 with EUSPBA

The RSPBA has, unsolicited, upgraded the Stuart Highlanders of Massachusetts to Grade 1, the band recently learned after entering for the 2014 World Pipe Band Championships in Grade 2.

“I can confirm that the RSPBA has upgraded us this season,” said Stuart Highlanders Pipe-Major Adam Holdaway, “and while we did not request the upgrade, the band is humbled and honoured to be a part of the association’s top tier of bands.”

The band merged with the now defunct Grade 1 Oran Mor Pipe Band of New York, and it is thought that the combination of the two bands brought about the Scottish association’s decision to place the band in Grade 1.

The Stuart Highlanders’ home association, the EUSPBA, was unaware of the upgrade, and was not consulted by the RSPBA. The band will remain in Grade 2 in the EUSPBA.

“Stuart Highlanders are Grade 2 in the EUSPBA, and as our season has not yet started yet, we have no plans to change that grading for 2014,” said EUSPBA President Eric MacNeill. “Adam Holdaway is a member of our Music Board and grading committee and we intend to work with him on this matter. At the moment, I foresee an excellent competitive push between New York Metro and Stuart Highlanders locally, and I think that will be to the benefit of both bands as they prepare to travel to Scotland in August.

“The EUSPBA was not consulted about the RSPBA grading.  However, we are not under any obligation to also re-grade any band. Whenever a band travels to Scotland, they must be prepared to be graded by the RSPBA.  It’s their event, so it’s their rules.  I think bands that plan to attend understand that.”

According to a source close to the band, who requested anonymity, the Stuart Highlanders have appealed the decision of the . . .


  1. I think this is pathetic. What is the point of a home society if all they do is bow down to the rspba? Let this band have success on the field first before seetting them up for the slaughter that is the premier grade. As it is half the bands in grade 1 should be downgraded, or the top 12 or 15 in grade 1 upgraded to premier. Grade 1 has the largest spread of any grade. Why is everyone allowing the rspba to continually move the meter at its every whim?! If local societies are allowing the rspba to call the shots as they see it (having never heard the band play), then the euspba should start allowing their judges to place bands based on their chanter/reed combination a-la the rspba of the not too distant past. Stop being sheep folks.

    1. I agree with Andrew Adams. What is really ironic is the EUSPBA is using EUSPBA funds to fly a RSPBA judge over to judge the Colonial Games this coming Saturday (this was done well before any of this hit the fan). This judge is scheduled to judge both grade 2 band events and guess what? The Stuart Highlanders are competing!
      In hindsight, and if (BIG IF) the RSPBA powers knew about this, I would like to think the RSPBA would have at least entertained the possibility of any sort of final decision on grading being postponed pending one of RSPBA’s own judges getting a good listen.
      Let me be clear, I am not suggesting one judge’s opinion should be the only factor considered. On the other hand a live, ears on judge’s opinion certainly wouldn’t hurt either. I think all sides/opinions would agree that the ultimate goal is to get this grading right. Including the RSPBA.
      Since the opportunity is there, it is a shame it looks like it is going to be missed. Unless, of course, someone from RSPBA is reading this and will at the very least give this novel reconsideration idea more than a passing thought.

  2. While I have friends in Stuart Highlanders and wish them every success for their unsolicited future, this and other recent inconsistent Grade 1/2 decisions highlight the current dystopian restructuring agenda at play behind closed doors. To summarise what has happened in recent months: 1. Buchan win Worlds and Champion of Champions with 29 points out of 30 and are somehow deemed not worthy of promotion. 2. Three functioning, healthy and contributing Grade 1 bands were relegated to Grade 2 without any prior warning. Two of these bands have been irreparably damaged. 3. Several bands who have either partly or not at all contributed to Grade 1 in the last few years escaped relegation. Ballycoan return to Grade 1 next month after several seasons absence as if they’ve never been gone, yet Bleary and District were relegated in identical circumstances. 4. Stuart Highlanders upgraded to Grade 1 before they’ve played a note in competition this year. When you see things layer out in this fashion, it is easy to see there is something badly wrong. Either that or there is some ulterior agenda at play. Avoiding conspiracy theories, things appear to be dysfunctional at best. It is hard to see how any of these decisions are fair, consistent or approached in the interests of the bands concerned, their members or their competitors. Lack of consultation goes hand in hand with no accountability. Something stinks and these decisions are destroying bands.



Forgotten Password?