Articles of Interest

Here is an article of interest from the web site “Drumming Mad”. You can find the original article at:

My thanks to this web site for this article.

Roles and Responsibilities within a Pipe Band

Just like any organized group or activity, Pipe bands require a management structure to be implemented in order to ensure the band is run effectively and efficiently.

The most common model of management structure implemented by Pipe Bands is based upon the hierarchy system used by the military. Other positions within a band are created and allocated on a need by need basis and often reflect positions found in many organizations such as President, Secretary and Treasurer.

  • Pipe Major – The Pipe Major is the musical director and guiding leader of the band as a whole and is responsible for the overall direction, performance quality and commitment of the band. The Pipe Major establishes the band’s musical repertoire and decides which events the band will or will not participate in. The Pipe Major acts in order to fulfil the collective desires of the band, whilst upholding and abiding by the bands’ constitution. Being a piper, the Pipe Major is also responsible for the Pipe Corps, ensuring instruments are well looked after, the level of skill required by the band is reached and maintained, and sourcing new players when required. The Pipe Major will work closely with the Leading Drummer to achieve the best ensemble arrangement and performance outcomes.

  • Drum Major – The Drum Major is responsible for directing the band when on parade, including the band’s overall appearance which includes proper dress, drill and discipline.Positioned at the head of the band and with the aid of a mace, the Drum Major communicates to the band using a range of both verbal commands and visual gestures. The Drum Major signals the band what time to keep, when to step-off, what to play, when to turn, when to mark-time, when to play and when to stop.In addition, the Drum Major serves as a liaison between the Pipe Major and the band and is responsible for keeping the band organised and structured.

  • Drum Sergeant – The Drum Sergeant is responsible for the function and performance of the Drum Corps, which consist of all drummers including snare, tenor and bass. The Drum Sergeant is often also the Lead Snare Drummer, however this is not always the case. Responsibilities of a Drum Sergeant include but are not limited to:
    • Communicating with the Pipe Major to maintain consistency with the vision of the band’s direction and purpose
    • Driving the progress and motivation of the drum corp including finding and introducing new players when needed
    • Insuring all drummers maintain the level of skill required by the band
    • Keeping track of instruments and ensuring they are properly looked after and respected.

  • Lead DrummerIt is the Lead Drummers’ responsibility to highlight any separation / ensemble issues that he or she notices. The Drum Sergeant is often also the Lead Snare Drummer, however this is not always the case.

  • Snare Corps Drummer – The rest of the drummers are referred to as the Snare corps. For the Snare drummers, as corps players it is their responsibility to play as similarly as possible with the lead drummer so that together, the snare corps sound as one.

  • Bass Drummer – The Bass Drummer is one of the key time keepers responsible for maintaining a steady tempo throughout the band’s performance. This includes guiding the band accurately through tempo changes from one tune to the next. The Bass also provides an added layer of musicality and interest to a tune through various accenting methods.

  • Tenor Corps Drummers – Tenor Drummers add depth in pitch to the band’s performance in a similar way as does the bass. Through the clever use of accents to highlight groove notes. Combined with the bass drummer, they provide a sound bridge between the snare drummers and the pipers. Tenor drummers add the sparkle to a band performance through both sound and visual flourish. While the bass and tenor section can be seen as a third section of the band, they are still part of the drum corp. They are known predominantly as the bass section.

  • Piping Corps players – The Pipe Corps players are required to play as one with the Pipe Major. At times some pipe corps players will play different notes to the pipe major. This is often referred to as harmonies or harmony players. This will happen under the direction of the Pipe Major and is intended to provide another layer of colour to the ensemble effect.

Other common roles include:

  • President
  • Secretary
  • Treasurer
  • Custodian of Equipment
  • Social Secretary
  • Publicity Officer
  • Members Representatives