PP Editor’s Blog: Monktonhall Pipe Band/ New England Camp/Worlds etc

Thanks to Les Hutt, Inverness, for reminding me of the Glenurquhart and Invergordon Games tomorrow (see Comments). There’s certainly plenty of opportunity for pipers this Saturday to get out and have a tune and I  hope as many as possible will take advantage of the last few weekends of the games.

Les’s old band were the Monktonhall Colliery and he learned his piping under Willie McBride, a fine piper and a first class P/M taking the band to the heights of Grade 1 I believe.

Willie’s son is Donald McBride, one of our teachers at the South Florida Piping & Drumming Academy and known as an outstanding player and teacher in his own right. Donald recently put this photograph (top) of himself and his father in the Monktonhall front line on the web. It must have been taken in the early 70s. It looks like Cowal and Donald is the wee spyug (look it up) in the front rank turning to talk to dad who was then P/Sgt. Is that Les behind? Who was the P/M? Any further info gratefully received.  Finally what is Donald saying to papa? ‘I got all my doublings in dad, I did, I really did. Can I get an extra bag of sweeties?’

‘No; stop whining or I’ll skelp yer lug,’ would have been the only decent response.

nepa logoTalking of Academies, the dates for New England 2016 have been set. Here’s a message from Registrar Cricket: ‘We have dates for camp for next year! Adelynrood rooms were small, but we loved having the run of the whole place. Next year, let’s fill it up with more pipers and even some drummers… ! We’re adding a day to the camp, also, as many of us felt our time was too short. More dancing! More playing! More practice time!  

‘So for 2016, the New England Piping Academy will be June 14-19.  We are working on pricing~ it’ll be a tad more for that extra day.  We’ll have those numbers ready soon.

‘I am putting together a mini-survey/evaluation to send around also, to make sure we tweak next year to be even better for you, our most Faithful Charter Year Campers. Thanks go to all of you for your immense generosity, with each other and with any of the quirky startup issues we may have had this year, getting ourselves situated in a new facility. Next year, we expect pretty smooth sailing. And of course some great tuition, and all-around fun.

‘Let’s talk this up to our bands and piping friends, and even our piping-wannabe friends!  BIG thanks go out to Rob and Matt for all their teaching and hard work. Next year will be upon us before we know it~ mark your calendar now! Hope this finds you each well and getting some summer R&R.’

Just a few more thoughts on the Worlds. It was interesting to re-read Alistair Aitken’s comment that the BBC had nine microphones around the Grade 1 arena and that no judge would have heard the contest the way it was broadcast. Nor would the commentator and presenters who of necessity have to listen via a set of headphones or on mobile studio speakers. The point I’m making is that, accepting Alistair’s point about close proximity, the people best placed to hear the performances would undoubtedly have been the adjudicators. What is broadcast is a compressed mix courtesy BBC sound engineers. I am sure they do their damnedest to be as accurate as possible, but there is always going to be some difference to what is broadcast and what is heard by those actually in the arena or sitting in the stands nearby.

I have had one noted piper who listened via the livestream say to me that he thought Field Marshal’s high A was course and inaccurate. Well I have to say that this was one of the few bands in the MSR that had the required breadth in this note.  So it just shows how the airwaves can alter things, ever so slightly, granted, but crucially at this level. The BBC do a grand job, both radio and television, but there is no substitute for actually being there and hearing things for yourself.

RSPBA pix from the Worlds now online and also the opportunity to buy tickets for the World Solo Drumming Grade 1 final (Oct 17, Glasgow Caledonian University). Click here for more info.
Band contests remaining this season:
Aug 22 – Rothesay and Portrush, NI
Aug 29 – Cowal
Sept 5 – Peebles
Sept 6 – Chatsworth & Innerleithen
Sept 12 – Pitlochry

New track added to PP Audio Archive today. It’s part of a radio broadcast I did 34 years ago:

The archive is proving increasingly popular. By far and away the most played track is that of Jimmy McIntosh playing part of Lament for the Children, recorded just before his 90th birthday. Listen here.


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7 thoughts on “PP Editor’s Blog: Monktonhall Pipe Band/ New England Camp/Worlds etc

  1. It was my first year playing in the band and we’d played at the World’s in Aberdeen that year. I remember my panic trying to get into the circle!

  2. David les, this brings back memories, i can’t remember for certain but I thought I was in the band in 1970 and willie was PM then or am I a year or 2 out. I left to join police in 1973. Hugie was pipe Sgt then so this photo I think is in the 60. Hope you are doing well. Barry

    1. Hi Barry. I joined late 71 and you were about the same time as me. Cheers Dave.

  3. The Monktonhall pipe major in the picture was Hugh Muir He was in at the founding of Prestonlinks Colliery band and was pipe major from 1963 when Prestonlinks Colliery closed and the band moved to Monktonhall Colliery.
    I’d put the photo in the late 60s rather than early 70s. Willie took over from Hugh in 1969 or 1970 and there are a couple of weel-kent faces from the early 70s missing from the line-up.
    Happy memories.

  4. Yes just 13 year old me in my first season. The pipers are Hughie Muir, his son Robert Muir, George Gray who became the Pipe Sergeant, L/D Tammy Blair, David Currie, John Moffat, Kenny White, Donald, me, Bob Buchanan, Willie, Tammy Davidson, and Jimmy McMillan. Hughie was my first tutor then Willie took over.

    This was in Grade 3 which meant leaving Prestonpans at 5 in the morning to get to Dunoon for the draw at 9am. I think the top G3 band that season was Dysart with Dingwall British Legion not far behind. Monktonhall was about to change dramatically as more younger players came through mostly through Willie’s teaching, and others such as Barry Donaldson and Jennifer and Alison Hutcheon joined.

  5. incredible playing by Jimmy McIntosh, aged 90!!!! Incredible playing for anyone regardless of age! Such a sweet pipe too. Thanks for sharing this.

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