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PP Ed’s Blog: Pipe Bands Australia Appointment/ Johnstone Pipe Band/ D Throw Query/ Schools Trust Job

Congratulations to Dean Hall on being appointed Principal of Drumming for Pipe Bands Australia. Dean joins Brett Tidswell, Principal of Piping, in forging ahead with the development of piping and drumming in that country.

There does seem to be something of a boom in pipe bands down under right now and having worked with these two gentlemen in the past I am certain this will receive further impetus.

PBA President Chris Earl (pictured above far right with Brett and Dean) has come in for a fair bit of stick over various matters lately but he now has individuals with all the knowledge and experience needed to help him navigate the sometimes stormy waters of pipe band politics.

And before leaving Australia we should congratulate Brett on his new baby. Benjamin James arrived last month at 7lb 9oz and both mum Angie and baby are coping as best they can with dad’s practising:


Not a great entry for the RSPBA’s Glasgow and West of Scotland Branch indoor competition to be held in Coatbridge High School this Saturday April 29. Unfortunately it does not augur well for the future of the contest.

There are so many good bands in the branch through all grades it is surprising that they don’t take this opportunity of a run out before the outdoor season starts. Only the newly promoted Johnstone in Grade 1 where I hear former Inveraray Pipe Sergeant Douglas Campbell is doing great work helping whip the pipe corps into shape. Click here for the Coatbridge draw.

Johnstone under Pipe Major Keith Bowes

Nicholas Taitz in South Africa: ‘Have you noticed, there is a modern tendency to play the heavy D throw as simply a grip to D with no C in between?  The correct way to play the heavy D throw, so I was taught, was to play a grip to C, and then play a D.  The C was admittedly very short, but it was there. 

‘I have seen an exercise where five or six of the top players’ D throws were slowed down and they are simply grips straight to D, with no short C.  Once you are listening for this, I think you will hear it more and more.  I didn’t notice this myself until a senior piper pointed it out to me, and he actually was the one who had slowed down the recordings I refer to above, and sent them to me.  I went back and listened to Hugh MacCallum playing the heavy throw, and he definitely plays a grip to C (which is a very short C) and then onto a D to finish.    



‘Anyone else noticed this?  It actually sounds quite nice to play a grip straight to D, it has a nice effect, but it’s not really a correct embellishment, is it?  Maybe it ought to be recognised now as a correct variant, because it’s certainly very common amongst top pipers.’

Have heard this a few times Nicholas but wouldn’t say it was a common problem. Most judges are ready for it and would condemn it if heard. One pleasing development of the last several years has been the disappearance of the heavy D throw from piobaireachd and slow air playing. The extra, or ‘redundant’, low A this version of the movement employs is acceptable when played in quicker tunes but in ceol mor it offends the sensibilities. Tutor Book 1 has a good lesson on the D throw which I can recommend.


Alex Duncan of the Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust: ‘SSPDT has just opened up applications for two internships – for a snare drummer and a piper – to start in August – details below.  These are great opportunities for people to gain experience prior to applying for further education courses, or for people who already have an advanced education qualification and who are considering a career as a schools instructor.

‘This is an exciting opportunity for a piper or a snare drummer to gain experience of teaching in schools alongside experienced instructors, and of developing a schools pipe band.’

The interns can opt to include charity administration as part of their portfolio.  The posts will be tailored to build on individuals’ ability and experience . The internships are paid, and can start from August 2017. Full details can be found here:

Closing date 31st May 2017.


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