Civilian Members

(Military Members)

People wishing to join the Calgary Highlanders as volunteer members are encouraged to contact the Pipe Major or Drum Sergeant. We are always looking for skilled players. Unfortunately, we cannot take on beginning players but we would be happy to recommend a good instructor.

Practice Time/Location

Practices are Tuesday evenings, 7pm, at the Mewata Armoury (801 11th St SW, Calgary).

Additional practices are held Saturdays on an as-required basis.

e-Mail Contact

Please use our contact from and the Recruiting Inquiry Category.

Military Members

(Civilian Members)

The Calgary Highlanders Pipes and Drums is an authorized Regimental Band, composed of military and volunteer positions. The military positions are open to Canadian citizens and landed immigrants who are 16 years or older. In order to receive a position you will have to be auditioned by the Pipe Major or Drum Sergeant to certify that you are at an appropriate playing level prior to applying to the Canadian Forces. 

Once permission to apply is granted you can start the enrolment process. This involves a medical exam, interview, aptitude test, and a background check. If you successfully complete all the steps you will be sworn into the Canadian Forces. You will be assigned the Military Occupation Code (MOC) of R871 which designates you as a musician.

R871 Musician Career Progression

Once you have been sworn into the Canadian Forces, you will be expected to complete a series of courses to advance in your chosen trade. These courses are grouped into “Development Periods” or DPs. There are 5 DPs and each DP is associated with a rank. As the pipe band musician trade is solely non-commissioned (no officers), we will only discuss the non-commissioned ranks.

Development Period 1

When you are first sworn in, you carry the rank of Private Recruit (Pte(R) ).

Army Common Training
The first course you will complete will be your Basic Military Qualification Course (BMQ). This course is three weeks (20 training days) in length and covers basic drill, weapons, physical conditioning, and military conduct. It is usually offered in the winter/spring from Dec to March over 10 weekends at the armouries, and during the summer as a three week full time course at Canadian Forces Base Wainright.

As a musician you have the option of doing a follow up course, the Soldier Qualification Course (SQ) now called Basic Military Qualification Course - Land (BMQ-L). This course is mandatory for all other trades in the army but it is optional for musicians. It consists of more advanced weapons and field training. It is also 20 training days and is usually offered directly following the BMQ course.

Military Occupation Training
Following your basic training you will complete the basic occupation training course for your trade. The musician trade is broken down into Qualification Levels (QL). This naming system is a hold over from previous training schemes. There are two ways of completing a QL. The first one is to attend a block of training offered by the Music Training Cadre at CFB Borden (20 minutes west of Barrie, ON). The course consists of three weeks of practice and instruction time during the summer which is then followed by the playing test at the end. There are usually four blocks offered from May to August. The second option consists of a satellite test. You will be expected to prepare for the playing test on your own time and a tester from the CF Music Training Cadre will come to test you. This occurs once a year but is not as good an option as going to Borden.

The first level you will complete is QL3. It is strongly recommended that you prepare all the pieces before you go on course at Borden. After completing these courses you will qualify as a trained private (Pte).

A good option for completing your DP 1 is to apply for the Band of the Ceremonial Guard, since it gives you the opportunity to get all your DP 1 training out of the way in one summer, you will get 4 months of full time employment, as well as being a good experience of what an army band can be.

Development Period 2A

The only course in this DP is the Musician Qualification Level 4 (QL4) course. This course is similar to the QL3 course but at a slightly higher level of difficulty. It is completed in the same manner by either going to Borden or being satellite tested.

After completion of the QL4 course and one year in the army you will be eligible for promotion to Corporal (Cpl). At this level you will be expected to start taking on a support role in the band, helping with administration and other organisational tasks.

Development Period 2B

There is also only one course in this DP, the Primary Leadership Qualification course (PLQ). This course teaches basic essentials of leadership, both in the classroom and in the field and is common to all trades.  You will learn how to give basic drill, oversee small leadership taskings, and prepare and give lectures.

After completion of this course and two years in the rank of Corporal you will be eligible for promotion to Master Corporal (MCpl). It is at this point that you will be expected to take on more leadership roles in the band, such as small group music instruction, taking the lead at a performance, and tuning.

Development Period 3A

Again, there is only one course in this DP, the QL6A course. This is very similar to the QL4 course, completed in the same manner. Once this course is completed, and with two year as a MCpl. you will be eligible for promotion to Sergeant (Sgt).

It is at this point that you will take on a senior leadership position in the band, such as Pipe Sergeant or Drum Sergeant.

Development Period 3B

In this DP there are two courses to complete. The QL6B course as well as the Intermediate Leadership Qualification course (ILQ). The QL6B course is very similar to the other QL courses, but it is a very high level test which can only be completed at CFB Borden, as the Director of Music for the CF is required to be present for the test.

The ILQ is a blended learning course consisting of an online learning portion, and an on base portion.

After completion of these two courses and with three years as a Sgt you will be eligible for promotion to Warrant Officer (WO). It is at this rank that usually a member becomes a pipe or drum major.

Development Period 4

This DP consists of the Advanced Leadership Qualification (ALQ). It is similar to the ILQ and is delivered in a similar manner. Once this course is complete, and with three years as a WO you will be eligible for promotion to Master Warrant Officer (MWO).

Development Period 5

This DP consists of the Chief Warrant Officer’s Qualification (CQ). It is also similar to the ILQ and the ALQ. With this course and three years as an MWO, you will be eligible for promotion to Chief Warrant Officer (CWO), which is the highest rank a pipe band musician can attain after a minimum of 14 years in the Canadian Forces.

Pay Rates

Your pay rate is decided by your rank and the amount of time spent at that rank. Your incentive pay category (IPC) goes up by one point for every year that you are at a certain rank. For example, a person who is in their second year of being a corporal would have a daily pay rate of $118.40.

The army pays by day or half-day. A full day is defined as 6 hours or more of training during a single calendar day, and any thing less is a half day. A standard band practice counts as a half day’s pay.

Disclaimer:The information contained on this page is for information purposes only and no guarantee is made as to its accuracy. The information is accurate to the best knowledge of the author but in no way is it to be construed as official DND policy.