Queensland Highland Pipers’ Society runs competitions for piping and drumming soloists at all skill levels, across six grades.

We encourage players to compete as much as possible – there is no better way to challenge yourselves to improve your performance skills and musical ability, catch up with other players, and continue to foster and grow a supportive and fun piping and drumming community. 

Soloists are graded by judgements of their skill level, generally according to results from past competitions. 

While QHPS oversees solo competitions in Queensland, band competitions are overseen by Pipe Bands Queensland.

Why compete?

  • Test yourself against players of a similar skill level and place or win medals, ribbons, trophies (and bragging rights!).
  • Receive valuable, on-the-spot feedback about your playing abilities from some of the best players in the world.
  • Work towards set deadlines that will push you to work further and harder towards improvement than you otherwise might.

Ongoing improvement

While competition is a fantastic way to challenge yourself to improve, it is certainly not the only way.

We encourage all players to leverage the many resources available to help with improvement – particularly by engaging with a tutor, mentor or other advanced player who can help you improve your playing skills and/or lead you through the competition process. 

See our Education page for more information about sources of this kind of tuition and support, or contact us for tutoring suggestions.

How it works

Before the competition

First, to compete in events that are administered by Queensland Highland Pipers’ Society, you will need research and find a competition to enter – visit our Events page for all upcoming competitions (search for solo events).

Follow the instructions on the relevant event’s page to register (these can differ for each competition depending on the organiser), and note that registration deadlines are usually 2–4 weeks before the competition date.

You should receive an email confirming your registration – familiarise yourself with the event times, as these are strictly adhered to on the day. 

Familiarise yourself with the standard rules for competition to ensure your musical selection meets the criteria for competition. If you have any questions about musical selection or how rules are administered for solo competitions, contact us

On the day of competition, arrive with plenty of time to allow for registration, tuning, and settling nerves. Competitions are usually scheduled so that grades compete from lowest to highest during the day, so arrive prepared and dressed in uniform (highland dress is required for competing in Queensland Highland Pipers’ Society competitions; read our Uniform details and maintenance page for more information).

The volunteers at the registration desk should provide you with the location and approximate time of your contest, and any updates to previously supplied information.

Be prepared to tune and compete in advance of your assigned time, just in case there are participants who registered but don’t attend, or who are disqualified.

At the competition

Do initial tuning up in an assigned area, or a respectful distance from the competition area. Each event is assigned to a judge who will listen to all players in the list, determine the top places, and provide valuable notes and feedback on your score sheet which you will retrieve at the registration table after the end of the contest.

The judge is assisted by a steward, a volunteer who is usually standing near the judge’s station with a clipboard. You are responsible for letting the steward know you are there, and checking the contest schedule with them. Note that a competition may run ahead or behind time, so it’s a good idea to check in with the steward about ten minutes before you’re due to start. 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.

When you are called up to the starting line, wait for the steward to give you the signal that it’s ok to begin. Introduce yourself and your tune to the judge, then take a moment to breathe, gather your thoughts, and focus before striking up. You have plenty of time, so get your instrument humming and tuned as well as you can, before playing your music to the best of your ability.

When you have finished, wait for the judge to finish their score sheet – they may want to debrief with you on the spot, or they will give you a signal to move on and for the next competitor to begin. If you have another event to play in, you can prepare for that, or relax, watch other players compete, and wait for the prize ceremony and score sheets to become available.

After the competition

After all players in all grades have competed and judges have handed in their score sheets, prizes will be awarded. After this has happened, players can go to the QHPS volunteer table to collect their score sheets.

If you have any questions about your scoring or judges comments and/or would like to lodge a challenge, contact us

Within 24 hours of a competition (usually), you can check the Results page to see the mastersheets that show the placings for each event.

Still have questions?

We’re here to help. Contact us with any queries and we’ll try to help you find an answer or guide you through the process.