PP Editor’s Blog: Greater Glasgow Police Pipe Band

The October 2015 edition of the RSPBA’s ‘Pipe Band’ magazine is now available from the ppresshop and also the RSPBA website.

Readers might also like to download the issues of the magazine from April and July last year which has a full interview with former Glasgow Police P/M Duncan Nicolson. Click on the back numbers option on the RSPBA site or use the drop down box on the ppresshop.

I think it a brave decision by Duncan to stand down after three years in charge at GG Police, handing the top job to his P/Sgt, Iain MacPherson (pictured above). In the end the band was simply not consistent enough to command a regular place in the prizelists at the major championships.

The powers that be in the police establishment have already tried to do away with it; the last thing we need is them having an excuse of alleged or perceived ‘mediocrity’. Nothing is sacred in the world of Police Scotland. Look what happened to that great institution in the east, the Lothian & Borders band (check out Pipe Band Magazine from Oct ’14).

But let us be clear from the outset: there was nothing mediocre about Duncan Nicholson’s stewardship of the Greater Glasgow Police Pipe Band. Anyone who witnessed their Celtic Connections concert in 2013 or their ‘Ceolry’ concert last year would have heard the highest degree of musicianship possible, an amalgam of pipe band and folk genres seldom heard before, all superbly marshalled by Duncan and his leading drummer Eric Ward.

Glasgow Police's Champion Leading Drummer Eric Ward
Glasgow Police’s Champion Leading Drummer Eric Ward

Unfortunately this quality did not sustain onto the contest field with any regularity, a few minor prizes the only competitive success that came the band’s way – though Eric’s corps did well in the early part of last season taking two major drumming prizes.

Perhaps with more time Duncan would have reached the heights. But it is to his credit that rather take a chance with the band’s future he has handed the reins to his Pipe Sergeant Iain MacPherson, a top player and teacher, and a stalwart of the band for many years. As we reported yesterday Duncan will take on Iain’s role as Pipe Sergeant. I believe they will complement each other perfectly.

They already work extremely closely together. There is no rivalry or animosity at all between them as our photograph shows:

P/Sgt Duncan Nichiolsona dn P/M Iain MacPherson of Greater Glasgow Police Scotland Pipe Band
P/Sgt Duncan Nicholson and P/M Iain MacPherson of Greater Glasgow Police Scotland PB

Listening to the band closely at most of the majors this year it was clear that they lacked the precision in their piping technique that others in Grade 1 could demonstrate. Sometimes I felt too, that they tried too hard to be different with their medley. That said, their sound is as good as anyone’s and Eric’s drum corps speaks for itself.

So, I do not believe there is much to be done to get this great band back up to where it belongs, challenging for the major prizes once more. With the new team of Iain MacPherson, Duncan Nicholson and Eric Ward there is no reason at all why this will not happen – and happen pretty quickly too.