Hundreds of Scots youngsters are to get the chance to learn to play the pipes and drums in 2017 thanks to a charity’s pledge to donate up to £500,000 to support tuition in schools.
WITH Scotland’s national instrument set once more to become the centrepiece of Hogmanay celebrations across the world, the Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust (SSPDT) has revealed plans to double its vital funding to finance lessons for pupils.
The SSPDT set up its schools programme because most state pupils in Scotland don’t get the chance to learn the pipes and drums on the same basis as other orchestral instruments.
In its first year, more than 1000 pupils in Scotland – in 93 state schools from 13 local authority areas – received tuition under schemes funded by the SSPDT, which totaled around £275,000.
But the charity has said it is prepared to invest £500,000 in tutors and loaning instruments in 2017 to ensure even more young people can be taught.
Chief Executive Alexandra Duncan said: “It is a shame that the vast majority of our young people are not offered the chance to learn our national instruments in schools.
“As we get ready for Hogmanay – and look forward to the iconic sound of the pipes heralding in the New Year – it is all the more important that we address this issue.
“Our Trust aims to protect the heritage of our national instrument but more importantly we aim to help improve outcomes for school pupils which will hopefully change lots of young people’s lives for the better.
“Piping and being part of a band develops a wide range of life and employability skills including teamwork, individual and shared achievement, discipline, commitment and self-confidence as well as musicality.
“We are pleased to be working closely with local authorities who are increasingly seeing the benefits of offering piping and drumming alongside other instruments in schools.
“We are delighted to see the programme grow and for new pipe bands to be formed to become a focus of pride for schools and communities.
“Our commitment to double our investment to £500,000 in 2017 aims to develop the success of the scheme even more.”
The SSPDT is also revealing that it will again be hosting the Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships – the world’s biggest event of its kind – in Edinburgh in March.
The Championships – which attract more than 700 youngsters from around 120 schools – was established to encourage the formation of school pipe bands, featuring taster grades for youngsters with no competing experience, as well as providing a forum for schools competing at the highest level.
Entries for the competition – which involves a range of categories for every level – are now being accepted ahead of the closing date on January 20.
The SSPDT has now introduced a fast track small grant scheme that aims to help kick start tuition programmes or boost programmes being run in schools already.
Alex added: “We have a simple application process on our website (www.sspdt.org.uk) for grants of up to £5,000 that can be put towards instruments or tuition. We also fund longer term programmes over three years, and loan bagpipes.”
One of the Trust’s new programmes centres on Banff Academy in Aberdeenshire where until recently there was no in school piping and drumming tuition. Working with the SSPDT, the local authority has employed a piping tutor and drum tutor who are teaching nearly 120 pupils a week.
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