NPA Scottish Pipe Band Drumming

The National Progression Award (NPA) in Scottish Pipe Band Drumming provides a progression route for candidates learning the pipe band drums, taking them from beginner stages to an advanced level.

This is a practical-based qualification set at SCQF levels 3, 4, 5 and 6 which covers the knowledge drummers need for performing in Scottish pipe bands. The NPA enables a consistent approach to the study of drumming in Scotland and internationally, keeping Scotland at the forefront in maintaining standards in this form of traditional music.

The qualification has been developed in partnership with the Piping and Drumming Qualifications Board (PDQB) and is available in specialist centres.

Why deliver this qualification

This nationally-certificated NPA allows maximum flexibility in the way it is delivered and assessed. It can be delivered as regular, weekly sessions in schools or as short intensive courses in pipe band organisations, or in other extra-curricular contexts. Providers must have access to the full range of expertise and resources necessary to deliver the content of each NPA.

Study can be tailored to suit a pace and style determined by the candidate, and it will expand the uptake of qualifications by attracting more drummers and training them to a higher standard.

The Unit content is aligned to long established standards to enhance the status of Scottish pipe band drumming music.

Who does this qualification suit

The NPAs are intended for candidates interested in Scottish pipe band drumming, including drummers who are involved in solo playing or members of pipe bands; Armed Forces personnel; Army Cadet Force and University Officer Training personnel; education authorities in Scotland, the UK and internationally; other piping and pipe band organisations in Scotland; affiliated and other piping and pipe band organisations in other countries; and skills development organisations.

The Award prepares candidates for further study and develops the skills required to play the drums to a high standard.


Access to the NPAs in Scotland and in other countries will be through these SQA approved assessment centres: College of Piping, National Piping Centre, Army School of Bagpipe Music and Highland Drumming, and Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association.

There is also scope for access through education authorities, colleges and higher education institutions.


The NPAs in Scottish Pipe Band Drumming are designed to provide progression routes to the full range of mainstream music options. Beginners would enter at SCQF level 3 and advance through to level 6. Candidates could ultimately progress to a degree in Traditional Music.

The NPA could lead to employment opportunities in teaching of Scottish pipe band drumming or other forms of music; the music and entertainment industry in general; the Scottish Police Service (all Scottish Forces have pipe bands); the Armed Forces; and the drum manufacturing industry.


Centres with devolved authority are eligible to seek approval through their own internal approval process.

Centres without devolved authority will have to come forward for approval and should contact the Business Development Team for guidance in completing the combined CA1/SA1 form.

Assessors and verifiers must be able to meet SQA's general requirements as outlined in the guide to approval.

How to assess

Assessment will follow assessment procedures approved by the Piping and Drumming Qualifications Board available from the PDQB website.

Assessment for these NPAs is through a series of practical and theoretical tasks. Assessment must be carried out in front of an approved assessor as individual assessments or combined in a single assessment event/performance.

Although the primary focus of the NPAs is in a practical area, centres are encouraged to make use of electronic resources where possible. This may include the use of Skype, websites and video content.

Qualification content and delivery tools

Unit(s) and delivery tools

Group Award code: G9GL 43 (12 SCQF credit points)
SCQF level: 3

Group Award code: G9H3 44 (18 SCQF credit points)
SCQF level: 4

Group Award code: G9H4 45 (18 SCQF credit points)
SCQF level: 5

Group Award code: G9H2 46 (18 SCQF credit points)
SCQF level: 6


Each NPA has two mandatory Units.

SCQF level 3
Scottish Pipe Band Drumming Performance — F7NG 09
Scottish Pipe Band Drumming Music Theory — F7NH 09

SCQF level 4
Scottish Pipe Band Drumming Performance — F7NM 10
Scottish Pipe Band Drumming Music Theory — F7NN10

SCQF level 5
Scottish Pipe Band Drumming Performance — F7NP 11
Scottish Pipe Band Drumming Music Theory — F7NR 11

SCQF level 6
Scottish Pipe Band Drumming Performance — F7NJ 12
Scottish Pipe Band Drumming Music Theory — F7NK 12

Any other information

Assessment Support Packs (ASPs) for all Units are available to download from SQA’s secure website.

Support material is available from piping or pipe band organisations. Sample test papers covering aspects of theory at all levels are available from the Piping and Drumming Qualifications Board. These are available for use as part of instructional programmes or for candidates who wish to take the assessments direct.

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Unit Specifications

Unit specifications can be accessed by entering the appropriate Unit code or title into the NQ Unit Search facility, or into our site search engine.

A number of the Units have accompanying Assessment Support Packs (ASPs). Please contact your SQA Co-ordinator to access these. 

Arrangements Documents


Centre Approval Information

Centres wishing to apply for approval to offer the NPA Scottish Bagpipes, NPA Scottish Pipe Band Drumming, PDA Scottish Bagpipes should complete the Qualification Approval Application Form (Qualification Approval Application Form (434 KB)).

Centres must supply a letter of support. from the Piping and Drumming Qualifications Board (PDQB). Please contract the PDQB direct via the following weblink for further information -

Related Links

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