Scottish Students Pipe Up for Return of School Championships

by Heather Peebles

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

Pipe Band Championships Young pipers and drummers are sounding the advance for Scotland as they prepare for a national schools competition dedicated to stoking up passion for the country’s national musical heritage.

Students from a number of schools across the country will travel to the capital next year, to take part in the Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships.

Delighted organisers say the response has been overwhelming after the success of the first ever competition in March 2013, which has the motto, “Every School Needs a Pipe Band”.

Bands across the country have already entered the 2014 competition with students from George Watson’s College in Edinburgh, Grove Academy in Dundee, The Community School of Auchterarder in Perthshire and Sgoil Lionacleit on the island of Benbecula. Catering for all abilities the championships have categories for every level – including fledgling outfits that may not have previously competed or even played in public.

Pipe Major of George Watson’s College who won the novice juvenile and juvenile competitions last year, Iain Simpson, said: “Rehearsals for the 2014 championships are already under way, with our band eager to build on their performance last year. With a complete mix of ages and abilities it is fantastic to see them working together to showcase the fantastic musical talent they possess.”

Last year saw 40 schools enter the inaugural competition, which was widely hailed in the traditional piping community as a runaway success.

64 schools have already registered for the 2014 event, but organisers are keen to encourage even more schools – or to encourage established community pipe bands to work with schools to enter the event – to sign up by the January 24 deadline.

The competition will take place on March 9 and will be held between Broughton High School in Edinburgh and neighbouring Fettes College.

Catering For Every Level

Among the  various categories will be  a ‘debut’ section  for bands making their first competitive appearance and a  new ‘Freestyle Musicianship Event’ which allows bands to play modern songs or their own unique compositions in the competition.

This category will be judged by three experts of the piping and drumming world including Pipe Major of Shotts and Dykehead Pipe Band, Robert Mathieson,  and Gary West, presenter of Pipeline on BBC Radio Scotland. They will also be joined by Craig Munro from the hugely successful Red Hot Chilli Pipers, who have helped bring pipe music to a new, global audience.

Competition organisers were thrilled at the level of talent displayed last year from schools across Scotland and believe that the momentum created by the second year of competition, could see pipe bands established in many more schools.

David Johnston, chairman of the committee behind the competition, said: “I’m delighted that following the success of our inaugural competition, where the talent was truly outstanding, that many new schools will be competing for the first time.

“It’s great to find so many junior musicians get involved in piping. It is particularly pleasing to see schools from outside the central belt make the extra effort to travel and compete.

“Interest in school piping has been gaining great momentum in the past 10 years, partly because piping has gradually become quite fashionable. Bands like Red Hot Chilli Pipers and Mànran have also influenced many students to play which is why we’ve included our new “Freestyle Musicianship Event’ where groups can chose something completely different to play.

“Our aim is to encourage as many young people as possible to get into piping and drumming.  Many pupils are trying out pipes and drums for the first time and we hope the Championships plays its part in ensuring this interest in our musical heritage continues to grow and thrive in all Scottish schools.”

Schools still have until 24 January 2014 to submit an entry but for more details, please visit: www.scottishschoolspipebandchampionships.com

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