Members of the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland sitting their PDQB exams last weekend.

The Piping and Drumming Qualifications Board (PDQB) is the certificating body for a range of qualifications offered jointly by The National Piping Centre (NPC), The Army School of Bagpipe Music and Highland Drumming, The Tri Service Cadet Centre, The Piobaireachd Society and The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association (RSPBA). 

The various qualifications require students to sit examinations requiring preparation of a range of musical material from which they are assessed. Students are also tested on sight reading, monotones and ability to play a range of exercises. The exams are held in partnership with the Scottish Qualifications Authority and cover music theory and performance elements

Thousands of pipers and drummers have sat these exams. Last weekend, many members of the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland (NYPBoS) sat theirs at The National Piping Centre headquarters in MacPhater Street, Glasgow. Bagpipe.News spoke with one of the PDQB assessors, NPC piping instructor Wilson Brown, to find out more.

Wilson said: “The Theory examinations ranged from one hour to four hours in duration, dependent on the different levels within the Scottish Qualifications Framework the students were sitting, and provided a new challenge to many of them. From written notation to instrument maintenance to the essential elements of sound, the pipers and drummers were put through their paces.

“These young pipers and drummers are highly skilled musicians, many of whom have enjoyed competitive success and participated in a number of high profile concerts. This, however, was an altogether different type of test for them requiring them to cover a range of subjects they may have had little or no knowledge of prior to embarking on the course of study and preparations.

Three members of the NYPBoS last weekend. L-R: Cameron MacPhail, Andrew McCrindle and Tòmas Young.

“It was great to see so many of these talented musicians sitting the examinations and hopefully this will encourage other young musicians to see the benefits of preparing and studying for them.

“From a piping perspective, it provides the young pipers an opportunity to learn different types of piobaireachd and also some of the more technical aspects including phrase construction, staff notation and canntaireachd. Without these examinations young pipers may not have the opportunity to further their knowledge in these important areas.

“Thanks go to the Director of the band, Alisdair McLaren for encouraging and supporting the members to sit the examinations, highlighting the benefits to both their playing and musical knowledge.”

For anyone is interested in studying for or sitting any of the PDQB examinations contact The National Piping Centre or go to the PDQB website for more details.