Competing in EUSPBA

EUSPBA offers contests for pipers, drummers (snare, tenor, bass), drum majors and pipe bands at all skill levels, novice through professional. Players are graded by skill, generally according to past contest results. Contests for novices or ungraded players are usually unsanctioned, and designed to introduce players to the world of competition and to determine if their skills would warrant competing in sanctioned contests. Players new to sanctioned competitions will start out in the lowest grade, until they develop a history of contest results. The EUSPBA Grading Committee reviews requests from competitors periodically to determine who should move to the next grade. EUSPBA takes its player grading duties very seriously for two reasons. It is of no real value to compete against players who are far above or below your own skill level. More important is maintaining the grading standard as it is applied throughout the rest of the world, so that our players can compete well anywhere.

The EUSPBA Mission

The EUSPBA recognizes that music competitions provide a means of improving piping, drumming, and pipe band musical performances, and has established a set of rules and regulations. We aspire to assist individuals and bands in reaching, not only their highest competitive potential, but also raising the level of our art. Contests that agree to follow the EUSPBA guidelines may be sanctioned by the association. EUSPBA sanctioning provides competitors a measure of uniformity in terms of rules, standards, and judging.

Why Compete?

  • To win pins, medals, ribbons and trophies
  • To show you’re better than the next player
  • To get invaluable real world feedback about your playing abilities from some of the best players in the world
  • To have real deadlines to push yourself farther and harder towards improvement than you otherwise might

Please Note

Competition is a positive component of a serious training program, but cannot stand alone. Players are encouraged to work with an instructor, a mentor or other advanced player who can assist with ways to improve your playing skills as well as lead you through the competition process. This introduction to competition is not meant to replace that detailed communication of the myriad of details that go into successful competition.

 How It Works

Before the Contest

Okay, let’s walk through the typical competition process for a solo competitor. First, you will need to be a member of EUSPBA. If you are not yet, take a moment now to sign up. Next, you will need to research and find a contest to enter. Our Web site Calendar of Events is an excellent resource for this, and will list all our sanctioned contests. Follow the instructions to register, and note that registration deadlines are usually 2-4 weeks before the date of a contest. You will then receive a competitors’ packet in the mail or email with good instructions, registration times, and frequently admission tickets to the hosting games or festival. You may or may not be notified of your approximate contest times in this communication.

On games day, arrive at the registration table on time. Allow extra time if you aren’t positive where the registration table will be. Lower grades are usually the earliest contests of the day, so be prepared by donning your highland gear (required for competing in a EUSPBA sanctioned contest). You will probably receive a competitor’s number on an index card which is pinned on your kilt to help stewards track you down and help you get to your contest. The registrars should provide you with the location and approximate time of your contest. Be ready to go in advance of your assigned time in the event that there are no shows, DQs, etc.

The Contest

Your contest is assigned to a judge who will listen to all players in the contest and determine the top six places, and provide valuable notes and feedback on your score sheet which you will retrieve at the registration table some time after the end of the contest. The judge is assisted by a steward, a volunteer who is usually standing near the judges station with a clipboard holding a list of competitors. You are responsible for letting the steward know you are there, and checking the contest schedule with him. You may be called at your preassigned time, you may be called earlier than that (see above) or you may be called later than that. If the steward cannot find you when the judge is ready to hear you, you may be disqualified and not permitted to compete. This is at the judge’s and steward’s discretion, so be nice to them!

When you are called up by the judge, let him know the tune you will be playing, and wait for the OK to begin. Take a moment to gather your thoughts and focus. Get your instrument going to your liking, get it tuned to the best of your ability, and play your music as good as you can. Then breathe deep and relax, you’re done. This would be a good time to go listen to contests at the next grade level, to familiarize yourself with where your playing skills should be headed.

After The Contest

After the end of the contest, look near the registration table for the score sheets. Read yours carefully and either go to the registration table to pick up your award for first, second or third place, or promise yourself that you will work harder and do better next time. Once you are back home, you can check the results page on this Web site to see the complete results of the contest.