The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association (RSPBA) held an international online meeting on March 7, 2021. Present were 17 representatives from the pipe band associations in Canada, United States, Eire, New Zealand, and Australia. For the time being, the group will be called the “International Liaison Group”.

Alastair Duthie served as moderator of the group; he is an RSPBA music board member which oversees the changes in the way the organization competes. Kevin Reilly is the program director of the music board.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss “what’s going on in the midst of Covid”. Some of the difficulties are getting “a hold of everyone” due to online issues.

The RSPBA is now different. The organization is now a company with responsibilities as a charity as well as to a board of directors and stakeholders. There are now “hoops to jump through with current regulations”. All regulations must be approved by the board of directors. Information is gathered, sent to a formal group, then the music board and the judge’s board.

Steve McQuillan (PDQB) and Kevin Reilly of the RSPBA are looking at developing an international liaison group to help create rules and regulations, to help with dispersing information on the world’s and band competitions and to look at the PBQB system

Covid has been the “stumbling block”, resulting in the loss of competitions. The competitions are not funded by the RSPBA, but rather the local councils and sponsors. The World Pipe Band Competition is sponsored by Glasgow Live and may be cancelled for 2021. There are concerns among the overseas associations as to when that decision will be made due to

Tonight’s discussion will focus on:

  • Good practices in the current Covid situation.
  • Future of dues for the international bands – the international bands pay 50% to compete in Scotland.
  • Contacts in the RSPBA for advice and questions.


The various participants were polled as to current activities.

  • EUSPBA – in person competitions requiring masks and social distancing for bands and judges; general public not included.
  • BCPA – video events; Zoom online live competitions grade one only, judged on recorded video. They have posted YouTube videos for members.
  • Australia – focus is on education and PDQB exams.
  • Manitoba – there is a potential for in person competitions later this year; they are focusing on fun events for youth and PBQB exams.
  • Midwest – in person event with exact time for competition for May and PBQB.
  • South Africa – seminars on maintenance and band management and other courses, and PBQB.
  • New Zealand – focusing on growth since they have lifted most of the shutdown and working to attract youth and their families. They live stream competitions.
  • Eire – since they cannot gather in groups, there has been limited solo playing.


The discussion focused on various challenges:

  • It was suggested that the associations receive information and updates directly from the RSPBA.
  • Without competitions, there are financial issues as well as a struggle to maintain value of membership without competition.
  • Reaching out to non-competition bands and groups to include them in education opportunities.
  • Technology is here to stay and the pandemic has allowed the organizations to embrace it. There is a platform called Session Wire that currently allows performing with others and only has a one second delay. There may be more advancement in the future.
  • Consult with members on what the needs are.
  • Business as usual does not work. Need to share best practices and use digital platforms to the advantage of the association and the competitors.


Steve McQuillan stated that the PDQB is currently operating on a digital platform.

  • They are looking to launch a subscription service.
  • It will post to PDQB to the level that they fit as part of the pathway to PDQB.
  • They are looking to develop free resources.
  • Provide feedback to the player.


Alistair Duthie stated that he would “gather all his notes” and return to the group.



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