March 24, 2021

UK band playing requirements reduced in case of a 2021 season

After four months of deliberation, the Music Board of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association has reduced the playing requirements for competing bands.

The announcement was made with the proviso: “We hope that member bands find this useful should the two remaining Major Championships take place.”

The association has already cancelled the first three of its five major championships, with only the Scottish at Dumbarton, Scotland (July 31st), and the World’s at Glasgow (August 13-14) remaining.

  • Grade 1: One MSR or one 5-7-minute medley submitted, depending on event (reduced from two MSRs and two medleys).
  • Grade 2: One 4-6-minute medley (reduced from two MSRs and one medley).
  • Grade 3 (A and B): One MSR (reduced from one MSR and one 3-5-minute medley).
  • Juvenile: One 3-5-minute medley.

Requirements for other grades would remain the same.

The association equivocated on whether the World’s and Scottish would actually be held, appearing to shift the decision to the groups that purchase the rights to the events, saying, “The promoters of the Scottish and World Pipe Band Championships are considering the March Scottish Government announcement on the phased exit from lockdown, particularly the criteria that needs to be met by the events industry as they look at the viability of running the event.”

Glasgow Life, the public organization that licenses the World’s from the RSPBA and runs the non-competition aspects of the event, had not responded to a request for clarification at publication time.

The RSPBA still has a two-day World’s scheduled, the Friday mainly for Grade 1. With only one MSR and one medley required to be submitted, the practicality of two days of competition is questionable. According to input from non-UK Grade 1 and Grade 2 bands, few if any plan to make the trip to Scotland in August, if travel is permissible by then without lengthy quarantine and testing measures.

Requiring some bands to pay for an extra day of travel and, in most cases, overnight accommodation in Glasgow would put additional financial pressure on them in what will be, by then, 18 months of depleted finances and little or no revenue from paid performances and competition prizes.

International travel except for essential reasons is expected to remain in place for most countries for the foreseeable future. Proof of vaccination through a “vaccination passport” is also being discussed around the world. Citizens are not being required to take a vaccine. Some bands are reportedly planning to require their members to be vaccinated in order to participate at all.

If the World Championships were to go ahead, it would almost certainly be with few, if any, non-UK bands, making the event largely indistinguishable from other RSPBA championships. It would also mean that any winning non-UK bands would not have a chance to defend their 2019 titles.

“The credibility of a ‘World’s’ that is in effect only exclusively open to UK-based bands is obscene,” said one member of a band based in the UK , who spoke on condition that his name not be included for fear of reprisal by the RSPBA. “How do international bands defend their titles if they aren’t allowed to travel to the contest? This is the cryptic continuation of stringing bands along.”

The association has called out to member bands to pay their membership fees for 2021, even with a deplete or even no-existent competition season. At its annual general meeting, the organization had initially sought to require bands to pay up to three years of lapsed dues, but rescinded the motion after a contentious discussion.

With bands still unable to practice in-person together, and the majority in Grade 1 and Grade 2 saying that they will need three months or more to get back to competition standard, time is becoming tighter for a realistic return. There is a little more than four months until the Scottish Championships.

Other associations around the world announced reduced playing requirements months ago. The Midwest Pipe Band Association recognized in January of this year that contestants could benefit from less stringent musical requirements.



Third RSPBA 2021 major nixed with cancellation of Europeans at Inverness
March 1, 2021

British, UK championships first 2021 RSPBA majors to be cancelled (updated)
February 26, 2021

Getting Back At It: we survey band leaders on competition return and other shutdown issues
February 8, 2021

MWPBA makes decisions with safety in mind
January 15, 2021





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