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What grade?

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  • What grade?

    Hi there,

    I am new in this forum. I am a fairly new competing piper and I am wondering how to decide what grade to play and when to move up.
    I have competed in grade 5 this year and last, at two major highland games, I have Played grade 4 at some really small mini meets and I did very well at both, except for the 2/4's!!
    I have played for about 6-7 years, but have just recently figured it all out, and can actually play for competition.
    I find that the grade 4 tunes have gotten a lot harder all of a sudden! S/R instead of S/A for example.
    When do you think that pipers should move up a grade?
    I am also a highland dancer, and in dancing it's easy, you get six stamps (which is six - 1st, 2nd OR 3rd placings at 6 different competitions) and you move up a level!
    thanks for your input!!

  • #2
    Re: What grade?

    What games did you compete at? Were they BCPA sanctioned games? Those are the first questions I ask since you live in BC.

    BCPA do their own upgrades so if you competed there in grade 5 and haven't been upgraded, that's your grade for next season.

    The BCPA doesn't permit competitors to upgrade themselves but if you and your instructor wish to appeal your grade, you may do so by applying to the grading committee.

    Check out the BCPA website for who to contact about your grade.

    Ken MacKenzie
    Height by genetics, Width by brewery...


    • #3
      Re: What grade?

      Thanks Ken,

      The problem is I haven't played at any BC games yet. I played Calgary/Canmore and I am going to give the Vancouver Mini Gathering a go in the next couple of weeks.
      Should i be starting out in Grade 5 regardless?
      Fling Girl


      • #4
        Re: What grade?

        Hi, Fling: Ken explained it perfectly. It does sound as though you need to enter Grade 5. There is a caveat to that, however.

        If you have an instructor, and if that person feels that you're qualified, he or she can contact the BCPA and make a case for you entering Grade 4.

        That said, and from what you've indicated, you're still probably best off starting in Grade 5. Whatever you do, best wishes this season. Michael


        • #5
          Re: What grade?

          I understand the rules, and thanks Ken, for the reminders here.

          Still, when I look at the description of what she has done (6 years of study, won some grade V events, though they were not sanctioned, and did well in some non-sanctioned grade IV events as well) doesn't it sound to everyone like if she spends another season in BCPA in grade V it will not only be a waste of one competition year for her (she is likely to dominate the grade), but also ruin the contests for pipers that actually belong in that grade?

          My advice would be that you take your score sheets, a letter from your instructor, and perhaps a recording of 2/4 and S/R and send it in to BCPA with your appeal. Be sure to include any prize you may win at the mini-gathering in a coule weeks.

          I know it is a waste of time for judges to sit through someone's butchering of a tune who is nowhere near the level they need to be at for that grade, but I would be very surprised if this individual was not ready to be competitive at the grade IV level, even if she does not win many prizes initially.

          In other words, my opinion would be that she err on the side of being in a grade that challenges her as opposed to remaining in a grade where she is likely to win easily each day.

          Fortunately, the grading does not happen on my opinions alone. Submit materials for appeal and see what happens. I trust the BCPA to make the appropriate decision.

          I can envision other situations where this becomes necessary for someone like myself, who does not live close to any BCPA contests and therefore cannot attend several each summer, but maybe one or two. If I make a good showing in those, I will be asking for upgrade. Someone who can play at seven BCPA games each summer will have more prizes than someone who can only play at one or two, even if they are playing at the same level. The grading, afterall, should be about one's level of play and not about the number of medals won, yes?


          • #6
            Re: What grade?

            Hi, Don: I agree with many of your points; and I certainly agree that it's beneficial to experience some challenge.

            The BCPA rules basically indicate (I don't feel like looking up the exact quote) that one can play in a grade in which they can reasonably be expected to compete (as in place).

            I cannot tell from Fling Girl's description whether Grade 4 would be a fit or not. The years of playing mean little to me, though the fact that she's done well in some games may. That's why I suggested that her instructor would know best.

            Two years ago, I appealed on behalf of a student who had just started competing (he'd moved here from another area and I started working with him). He took 4th in one competition and 1st in another--both BCPA sanctioned. Understandably, they didn't promote him for lack of more history.

            But I made the case that he would compete successfully in Grade 4 and I found the BCPA very amenable to listening and considering it. They agreed and moved him up (thank goodness he placed in his very first Grade 4 competition!! ).

            Fling, if you don't have an instructor, perhaps someone the BCPA knows could listen to you and put the case before them. As I said, in my experience, they've been very agreeable. Good luck!


            • #7
              Re: What grade?

              This was my first year competing in WUSPBA. I entered a couple of events and placed. Our Grade III band was going to Canada to play in the Calgary and Canmore games. Since my folks live in Calgary I decided to take my son and go up there to compete so they could see us. WUSPBA only has four grades, so I was a bit confused about what grade to compete in in Alberta. My instructor suggested Grade V, but I felt my son (a drummer) and I could compete in Grade IV, so that is what we signed up for (this is my son's first year of competition as well). My son placed fourth in his event in Calgary. I didn't do so well there, but I did place in both my events in Canmore with a 1st and 6th. We might have done better in Grade V, but I felt like we made the right decision.
              If a Piper falls in the forest and there is nobody around, does he make a sound?


              • #8
                Re: What grade?

                Thanks for all the info everyone!

                For clarification, at the Canmore/Calgary games I have placed 1st twice in S/A's, 1st in a 6/8, and 6th in a 2/4 and not at all in a 2/4.

                I have two amazing instructors in Kamloops, and I will ask them if they think I should appeal the BCPA's grading rules. But, for now I will play grade V in the Mini gathering in Vancouver, November 18th is coming quick!

                Thanks again for everyones thoughts, and i will let you know how I do!



                • #9
                  Re: What grade?

                  You did well, fling Girl! Congratulations. And I'm sure your instructors--and there are a number of wonderful ones in Kamloops--are delighted with your performance.

                  There is time, yet. With the detail you provided, it would seem that you could handle Grade 4. If they agree, they would be the ones who would file an appeal on your behalf.

                  As I said earlier, the BCPA is pretty responsive and fair. Go get 'em! And best of luck in your upcoming season. Michael