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Updated 06/12/2013


Band Grades

We use the terms “Grade 4” and “Grade 5” frequently but what do they mean?

Pipe band competitions are either sanctioned or non-sanctioned.  Sanctioned games are approved by a pipe band association, of which there are many.  For example, the Alliance of North American Pipe Band Associations (ANAPBA) includes:

The Omaha Pipes and Drums is a member of the Midwest Pipe Band Association (you can click on the link above).    Other pipe band associations around the world include:

Each Association has grading guidelines for pipe bands.  “Grade”, is how a pipe band is classified.  The ANAPBA (North American) grades bands from Grade 1 to Grade 5 (Grade 1 is the uppermost grade).  The Royals Scottish Pipe Band Association (RSPBA) grades bands from Juvenile, 4B, 4A, 3B, 3A, 2, and 1.  For a comparison, a Grade 5 ANAPBA band would compete in 4B in a RSPBA event. 

The Omaha Pipes and Drums currently compete as a Grade 4 band.  Under MWPBA and ANAPBA regulations, bands may only compete in their assigned Grade.  So how did we get to be a Grade 4?  We “challenged” up to the next grade.  We petitioned the MWPBA for re-designation under their guidelines. 

At sanctioned games, the different grade bands compete with different music.  For example, this is the 2007 schedule of “sanctioned” games for the Mid-West Pipe Band Association:

To explain the abbreviations:

Quick March Medley (QMM)

  • Any number of quick marches of any common or compound time signatures played in succession within a time limit of 2:45-4:30 minutes.

Medley (Med)

  • Minimum of four (4) different tune categories
  • Grades 4 and 3 play within the time limit 3-5 minutes.
  • Grade 2 plays within the time limit 4-6 minutes.
  • Grade 1 plays within the time limit 5-7 minutes.
  • Grade 1 must submit two at the Piping Tent, by 10:30am and draw at the line which is to be played.

March Strathspey & Reel (MSR)

  • Minimum:  4-parted 2/4 March, 4-parted Strathspey, 4-parted Reel.
  • Grades 1 and 2 must submit two at the Piping Tent, by 10:30am and draw at the line which is to be played.

That's it in a nutshell.