Tweedvale Pipe Band’s close season started with the disappointing news that the band has been downgraded by the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association (RSPBA) from Grade 3B to Grade 4A with immediate effect. The band found out the news directly from the RSPBA’s website on 22 September, just days after the RSPBA’s Music Board had met to regrade bands at the end of the 2015 competition season (full listing of all regradings here). Twenty bands were moved up the grades whereas eight bands were moved down. No formal communication of the downgrading has yet been received in writing by the band from the RSPBA but that could just be down to the way the RSPBA works. Though entitled to under the RSPBA’s rules, the band is not planning to contest the downgrading decision.

Speaking about the downgrading, Tweedvale’s Pipe Major Bruce Gillie said, “Whilst the news of the downgrading was disappointing and a bit of a shock, coming out of the blue as it did, it’s not the end of the world and the band will continue on, just in a different grade of competition. The fact that the band hadn’t been competing regularly for a number of years which meant we were probably a prime candidate for downgrading once we started competing regularly again, as we did this year. Now we know where we stand in the competition arena, I’m sure that with a hard winter of practice and three new competition sets to perfect we can build towards a good year next year for Tweedvale Pipe Band. Also, to look on the bright side, this downgrading will probably make it easier to integrate a number of learners who are ready to step into the band and there will be a bigger musical challenge to face with the band having to learn three contest sets.”

Tweedvale’s planning for next season haven’t been greatly altered following the downgrading news. A major revamp of the band’s repertoire was already on the cards, and it now includes coming up with THREE new contest sets instead of just two. Major fundraising is also planned in order to replace instruments and refurbish uniforms. The band is also keen to attract new members. If anyone is interested in joining a Grade 4A competition band that also has a busy season of street parades and other playing commitments, they are invited to get in touch with the band by turning up at one of the regularly scheduled band practices, on Monday and Thursday nights in the Vale Club Innerleithen, or by surfing to the bands website at for further information, or by getting in touch via the band’s Facebook page or by emailing the band at All are welcome, whether experienced musician or complete beginner.

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