VPA Solo Piping Grading

Grading Goals

VPA Grading is based on giving all pipers an equal opportunity to compete at the correct and most suitable level. This ensures fair competition between pipers of like standard, creates the challenge and rewards of strong and healthy competition and promotes and retains high standards of bagpipe musicianship in Victoria. The VPA has all current member pipers’ best interests in mind and grading is applied on a fair and knowledgeable basis.

Grading Standards 

The VPA endeavours to set a high standard of grading to allow all pipers the opportunity to compete in Victoria, Interstate and Overseas at the appropriate, accepted and expected level.

The VPA has an obligation to its pipers to ensure that they are correctly and most suitably graded to further their individual playing standard and foster fair and equal competition.

The VPA regulates competition standards for VPA competitions. Pipers are given a grade for Light Music and/or Piobaireachd. A piper’s grade may differ between disciplines.


Entry level solo piping is performed at Novice Grade with the highest standard of solo piping being at A Grade.

Novice Grade and D Grade are suitable for pipers of all ages. These grades require pipers to be able to play simple and compound time marches and two parted strathspeys and reels.

They also require pipers to play the basic theme and first variation of a Piobaireachd. Novice Grade and D Grade form the basis for beginners starting off in solo piping and pipers to introduce themselves to solo piping competition.

Novice and D grade pipers may receive outside assistance for tuning before each of their elements.

C Grade, B Grade and A Grade are the three highest grades for solo piping. These grades are for already accomplished pipers, and require pipers to play complex marches, strathspeys, reels, hornpipes and jigs. They also require pipers to play full Piobaireachd tunes. At the C Grade level, pipers are usually asked to submit one of each tune, whereas B Grade and A Grade pipers are required to submit multiple tunes that adjudicators will choose from.

Pipers in A, B and C grades are not allowed to have any outside assistance for tuning once they have entered the performance area or in between elements.

The VPA has a Pipers Assessment Criteria published on this website for further clarification of the expected level of ability required for each grade.

The Grading List

As of 2023, the Grading Panel will create a list of pipers and their assigned grades based on the previous years’ competitive pipers’ membership. The list will be emailed to the current competing membership and competitors may appeal their gradings according to the ‘Review of Grading’ process below by January 31st of each calendar year.

Playing Up Eligibility 

The VPA offers an opportunity for successful and constantly improving pipers, in their grade, to play up to the next grade for the purposes of future transition to that higher grade. And, to allow pipers some experience competing at a higher level with a more extensive repertoire of music.

The VPA has an eligibility criteria for allowing pipers to play up to the next grade, as follows:-

  • Pipers must always compete in their VPA Grade first. (A piper cannot just enter into the higher grade only)
  • At the first competition of the year, no one is eligible to play up. All pipers must play in their VPA grade.

A piper may decide to play up into the next grade, as well as their own grade, if:-

  • They win all the Light Music Elements in their own grade at the same competition, they are eligible to play up to the next Light Music grade, as well as their own grade, for the remainder of that competition season only.
  • They win the Piobaireachd competition in their grade, they are eligible to play up to the next Piobaireachd grade, as well as their own grade, for the remainder of that season only.
  • Pipers must be able to meet the music requirements for any grade that they play in. There is no playing up at the Victorian Solo Piping Championship contest.


At the end of each competition year, the VPA reviews the grading of all its pipers and assesses the current standard of solo competition in Victoria.

The standard of solo piping in Victoria is improving every year, so the VPA assessment may determine regrading of pipers either up or down, dependant on current expected standards.

All Novice pipers who have completed a full competition season in Novice Grade and finished in the first 4 places of the Piper of the Year Points Table will be considered for grading up to D Grade.

The assessment and regrading of all pipers in D Grade, C Grade, B Grade and A Grade will be determined in the following way:-

  1. VPA competition record for the current season
  2. Review of all competition results, tune requirements and number of contests
  3. Where applicable, received input from an adjudicator/s throughout the season
  4. Where applicable, feedback from tutors
  5. Via appeal process.
  6. In the event of a piper significantly raising or lowering their standard between seasons that warrants a review of their grade.

The VPA Grading Panel can review a piper’s grading at any time based on information received by adjudicators or tutors.

Should reallocation to another grade during a competition season be required, the VPA will consult fully with the piper, tutor and/or parent as to the circumstances.

Winning a Victorian Championship or VPA Piobaireachd Medal does not equate to automatic upgrading. Regrading is based on the criteria above.

Review of Grading

A piper, tutor or parent, may apply or appeal their allocated grade by January 31st of each calendar year by emailing victorianpipers@gmail.com

A review of the grading will take place as soon as reasonably possible, based on the regrading criteria as above.

Review of grading may include:
– Submitting current video/audio recordings
– Organising a live performance for the Grading Panel
– Direct consultation with the piper and tutor

All decisions made by review are final, and in the best interest of the piper.

Applying for Grading

If a piper does not yet have a grading, then they must submit a recording via email to victorianpipers@gmail.com.The recording should consist of a bagpipe performance of:

Light Music relevant to the grade requirements for which the piper is applying.

Piobaireachd relevant to the grade requirements for which the piper is applying.

Re-applying for Grading

If a piper has not played in a VPA Solo Piping competition for 3 years, they must contact the VPA on victorianpipers@gmail.comto discuss their grading, before they enter.

In discussion with the piper and/or tutor, the VPA will determine the grade in which the piper will be eligible to enter.

Grading for Interstate or Overseas Pipers

If a piper from Interstate or Overseas enters a VPA solo piping competition, they should enter into the grade that they are graded in their own state or country.

If the grading systems differs, then they should ascertain from the VPA Players Assessment Criteria and/or Grading to determine the grade suited to them.

If still unsure, then submit a bagpipe recording to victorianpipers@gmail.com to be suitably graded.