by Heather Peebles

Friday, December 27th, 2013

YC8E1441 (1)Schoolgirls have overturned a traditional male bastion by taking over one of Scotland’s most promising pipe bands.


Hundreds of youngsters have signed up to learn bagpipes and drums at the Scottish high school, but the coveted places in the band are being dominated by girls.


Currently Preston Lodge High School in East Lothian has 31 players in its pipe band, including 24 girls and just seven boys but has already competed in the European piping championships, scooping bronze in the novice juvenile category.


Organisers of the country’s Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships say the popularity of piping among the fairer sex is soaring and will now carry out the first detailed audit of numbers.


Lee Moore, bagpipe instructor at the school, said female students were earning their places in the band on merit.


He said: “It really surprises most people when they learn that almost 80% of our band members are girls.


“But in my experience, this is simply down to the fact that they are more determined to master an instrument at an earlier age, compared to the boys.


“The girls are definitely more interested in playing at an earlier age. It tends to be older boys who see a tangible goal and are interested in competition and playing to an audience.


“Piping is often seen as a male dominated pursuit and that is certainly no longer the case.  Here at Preston Lodge the girls have seized the opportunity and shown great dedication to representing the school.


“Hopefully this growing trend will influence other females to start playing in pipe bands and keep the tradition going strong all across Scotland. It would be fantastic to see this being repeated at more and more state schools.”



The organisers of the competition, which is in its second year, have the motto Every school needs a pipe band and are working to promote piping and drumming, particularly in the state school sector where it is still relatively unusual.


David Johnston, from East Lothian, is Chairman of the committee behind the competition, and said: “Independent schools have a thriving tradition of producing excellent pipe bands and they have also seen a much greater interest among girls in the past few years.


“This is great news all round, although no-one to date has an accurate picture of the numbers. So, during the competition we will be taking a detailed head count of exactly how many girls are involved.”


Preston Lodge head teacher Gavin Clark also insists the thriving pipe band at the school has brought a host of other benefits to pupils.


He added: “I am delighted to see the passion for the Pipe Band grow strength to strength. It’s such a healthy hobby for the students to engage in and gives them such a great focus.


“It is also fantastic to see so many female students take part in the tradition which is something I hope will continue to grow. It brings the entire school community together and performing at competitions and charity events gives the students goals to work towards.


“The band gives all the players a true sense of purpose which is an extremely important part of school life. It is also great to see some healthy competition between schools as it puts a certain edge onto rehearsals and gives a boost to the students to try their best at all times.”


Some of the female students have progressed so quickly during their time in the band that they have gone on to perform in grade one bands, the highest level of performance for bagpipers.


The Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships is to be held at Broughton High School, Edinburgh, on Sunday 9 March 2014 and schools still have until 24 January 2014 to submit an entry. For more details, please visit:

Private: Heather Peebles

Based as a PR in Edinburgh, Heather Peebles is a highly-valued member of the team at Holyrood PR. Her work with the Scottish public relations consultancy sees her advising clients in healthcare, construction, renewables and logistics. As well as delivering numerous successful PR campaigns, she is also experienced in crisis PR and reputation management.

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