Sometimes you stand next to your circle buddy and comment on everybody else during practice. This causes you not to pay attention to the pipe major and you are always asking a non-buddy (not involved in you and your buddy conversing), "What are we playing?"
Sometimes you stand across from your buddy and you have secret hand signals--somewhat like the signals used between the catcher and the pitcher in a baseball game--with which you communicate. Ben and Grant, and Aaron and Nick tend to do this. I haven't figured out if their signals actually mean something, or are just used to attract the attention of the other band.
I have several circle buddies. Karen, when she is there. We miss a lot of instructions because we are chattering. When Karen is not there, I stand by or across from Sande. Sande and I have been roommates on several band trips, and we are in group lessons together, so we go way back. Sande doesn't talk much at practice, but she has a good sense of humor. If neither Sande nor Karen are there, I stand by Pete, Jack, or Aaron who are sympathetic but who also pay attention to pipe major instructions, so it's just somebody familiar to stand by. Pete and Jack have been kind to me from my Worst Piper days with the band when nobody else would talk to me; Aaron is entertaining because he makes funny comments. He also plays harmony for most tunes. This tells me when we are on the second time through a tune and getting ready to either end or switch to the next tune.