About the CPA

The Competing Pipers Association was formed at the Caledonian Hotel, Inverness, during the 1976 Northern Meeting. At this time, the volume of entries for events at the major meetings resulted in competitions such as the Gold Medal lasting twelve hours and more.

Grading System

Competing pipers took it upon themselves to form a body who would set up self-grading system. The aim was to provide competition promoters with a professionally competent system of evaluation which would result in only the best candidates being selected to play in these prestigious events. At this time, the concept of the 'Silver Medal' was instituted at the behest of the CPA, and this meant that another level of piobaireachd competition was established for promising young professionals. Such has been the success of this initiative that almost without exception, aspiring Gold Medalists of the present day are holders of the Competing Pipers' Association Silver Medal.

Building foundations

The first President was James McIntosh, and the philosophy which was established during his period in office continues to this day. The Association went from strength to strength, and has striven continuously to promote the status of the competing piper. In this era, the CPA was a refreshing and much-needed initiative which established its members as having a degree of control over piping affairs.


In the early 1990s, the piping world found itself facing a period of uncertainty due of the establishment of the 'Association of Piping Adjudicators', a new judging organisation which challenged the status quo of the established traditions of piping adjudication. The CPA supported this new venture, and ultimately took the drastic step of withdrawing its support of some of the major competitions. This had an enormous impact in the piping world and ultimately resulted in the formation of a new supervisory body for the appointment and monitoring of solo piping judges – the 'Joint Committee on Judging'.

Joint Committee

Although many may argue that the boycott was a period of negativity for piping, through the efforts of the CPA, competing pipers gained a level of influence which had not been reached in previous decades. The CPA was instrumental in suggesting and setting up the Joint Committee on Judging, which has brought together the main bodies who have historically administered the affairs of solo piping competitions. As a testament of the respect that the CPA has gained, the Joint Committee has been historically run under the administration of the Association, and it is the continuous aim of every CPA administration to build upon the achievements of those who have served before. The CPA is a key member of the Joint Committee and maintains an open channel of communication at all times between the CPA President, the Chairman of the Committee and the Senior Judges' representative.


In just thirty short years, the competition system has come full circle. In 2009, the CPA has convinced major competition organisers to run separate graded streams at A, B and C level to provide a competition infrastructure that will allow progressive development for new entrants to open competition and for those pipers coming through form junior and amateur levels. In 2010, in partnership with the Argyllshire Gathering and Northern Meeting, the CPA established a qualifying competition for the Silver Medal which is fully aligned with the CPA's grading system.

We represent the interests of pipers competing in Scotland at all levels, and we work with competition organisers to ensure that competing pipers have a voice that is heard. A generation of experts has come and gone since the CPA was formed. At the present day, the Association is more influential than ever - a situation which would sit extremely well with the original founders.

Contest Guide

The CPA publishes a comprehensive annual listing of piping competitions known as the Guide to the Games. This originated as a guide to competitions in Scotland, but since 2010 has been expanded to include the major overseas competitions. In Spring 2010 the CPA published a Guide to Running a Solo Piping Contest, for the benefit of all competition organisers, judges and pipers.


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