A new trend is taking over Scottish schools as kids flock to compete in a new piping and drumming competition in the capital.
A piping renaissance has been accredited with the new found interest amongst school goers to play traditional Scottish instruments. More than 400 young pupils ages eight to 18 will descend on Edinburgh next month with the majority set to experience their first taste of public performance.
Organisers of the first Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships have been inundated with entries from more than 40 schools, many of which have never before advocated piping and drumming as an extra curricular activity. The organisers are delighted with the initial response and believe momentum created by the competition, could be see pipe bands established in hundreds more schools.
David Johnston is Chairman of the committee behind the competition, which has the motto, Every school needs a pipe band. He added: “We’ve got pretty big ambitions for getting young people into piping and drumming, but it’s fair to say the number of entrants in our first year has exceeded even our expectations.
“It’s brilliant to have so many keen youngsters developing a real passion for what is, after all, Scotland’s national musical heritage and one we have exported all across the world.
“There’s no doubt interest in school piping has been steadily increasing in the past 10 years, partly because piping has gradually grown quite trendy. Some of that is down to the success of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers and bands like Mànran and Pipedown, but some of it is just the fickle nature of fashion.
“There won’t be any complaints from us. We’re delighted to see a new generation trying out pipes and drums for the first time and we believe this is just the impetus we need to build on.”
The competition will take place at Broughton High School on Sunday, March 10 and it is hoped the experience will expand the reach of piping in schools and further encourage parent councils, head teachers and their staff, local education authorities and well-resourced private schools and the Scottish Government to play their part – financial and otherwise.
Participating schools will come from as far north as Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides right down to Hawick in the Scottish Borders. While Scotland’s independent schools already have a strong number of pipers and drummers a healthy number of those participating are from state schools.
Mr Johnston, of East Lothian, added: “We’re getting feedback from schools that setting up a pipe band can play a critical role in improving pupil behaviour and academic performance. In other words, you don’t need Gareth Malone and choir singers to make a real difference.
“Meanwhile parents like the fact that piping and drumming build self-confidence, concentration and self-discipline. Apart from that it’s a lot of fun and being in a band with other children and it teaches the value of teamwork, as well as the importance of appearance and time-keeping.
“There can also be more obvious rewards. Coming from the home of piping makes it easy for Scottish bands to get engagements overseas. These provide children with an opportunity to travel the world in good company, while spreading a musical message of goodwill and sometimes being very well-remunerated for the experience.”
To reflect the broad range of abilities, the competition will take part in various sections, including a ‘debut’ category for the 21 bands which will be making their first competitive appearance. Judges will come from world-renowned Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, which is backing the competition – RSPBA Chairman Gordon Hamill is a high-profile Patron of the Championships.
Winners on the day will collect their prizes from Mike Russell, the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning.
Entries are already being invited for next year’s competition and more details can be found at www.scottishschoolspipebandchampionships.com