Anyone who thought the prevalence of girls in today’s pipe bands is a relatively new phenomenon should have a look at the above picture of the Woolmet Colliery Juvenile Pipe Band. It’s from a 1949 edition of the Piping, Dancing and Highland Dancing Journal.
The story reads: ‘The Woolmet Colliery Juvenile Pipe Band, one of the young bands of the Lothians and Borders Branch [of the RSPBA] was founded in 1948….under the pipe majorship of Mr Alexander McIntosh, late of the Newtongrange Lothian Juvenile Pipe Band. The interest shown in piping and drumming in the district is quite amazing and Mr McIntosh has a class of 40 boys and girls who are all keen and enthusiastic. The drumming class, numbering about 30 is under the charge of Mr Frank Ross, late of the Royal Scots. Newton School resounds to the pipes and drums on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and the labours of instructors, pupils and committee members has certainly not been in vain. Since starting, the Woolmet band has figured in most prize lists for both Juvenile and 3rd Grade bands. Some of the successes for 1949 are as follows: World’s Championship (Juvenile) – second; Lothian and Borders Championship (Juvenile) – first; Cowal Highland Gathering (Juvenile) – second…..The band is maintained by the workers at Woolmet Colliery and they too have reason to be proud of the excellent combination. There will soon be an adult section and it is hopefully anticipated that 1950 will see the formation of a Ladies Band at Woolmet which will claim to be the youngest in Scotland.’
The debt our piping and pipe band world owes to the Scottish mining community has yet to be fully recognised. The above is just another example of the lengths these financially hard pressed men were prepared to go to to perpetuate and promote the music. If any reader was in the band or remembers it, please get in touch.
Thanks to all those who have pre-registered for the South Florida Pipe and Drum Academy next February. It’s going to be a great week of study in the sun at Boca.
I am delighted to announce that G1 Reeds will be joining us as sponsors of the Academy. This illustrious company (proprietor John Elliot of Inveraray & District Pipe Band) joins McCallum Bagpipes, David Naill & Co., Pipe Dreams and RT Shepherd & Co. in endorsing our work for piping and drumming in that part of the US. We are grateful to them all.
The Scottish Pipers’ Association will be holding its popular Knockout competition over the winter and the following top players will be taking part: Stuart Liddell, Steven Leask, Christopher Armstrong, Angus MacColl, Finlay Johnston, John Patrick and Alasdair Henderson, with one other name to be added. Dates are November 7, December 5, Jan 9, Feb 6, March 12 with others to follow. All events are 7 for 7.30 in the College of Piping where the Association will run a bar.
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Alan Forbes, Secretary of the Piobaireachd Society’s Music Committee, has sent this in regard to the Archie Kenneth Quaich competition: ‘The twenty-fourth annual amateur Piobaireachd competition for the Archie Kenneth Quaich will take place on Saturday, 5th March 2016, in the rooms of The Royal Scottish Pipers’ Society, 127 Rose Street Lane South, Edinburgh, starting at 10am.
Entries and enquiries to Alan Forbes, 24 Garscube Terrace, Edinburgh EH12 6BN. Tel: 0131-337 4094 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
‘Competitors should submit two tunes with their entries, one of which they will be asked to play. Competitors may not submit any tune with which they have previously won first prize in the competition.
‘Conditions for eligibility are as follows:
Competitors must be aged twenty or over.
Competitors must be amateur pipers.
In particular, the following are not eligible: holders of the Army School of Piping’s Pipe Majors Certificate; anyone who has won a prize in open competition or who has, within the past five years, taken part in open competition; anyone who has taken part in public recitals with professional players.
‘Anyone in doubt about their eligibility to play should contact the
competition organiser for advice. Please note the following change to previous arrangements:
‘In the event that there are significantly more than 25 entries the competition may be run as two heats with a final of three or four from each heat, the finalists being required to play the tunes not chosen for them in the heats. This is to enable as many competitors as possible to take part.’
Organiser John Mulhearn of the ‘Big Music Society’ has sent this: ‘The Big Music Society, in association with An Lóchran, presents Allan MacDonald, Kenna Campbell and Rona Lightfoot in Seinn air a’ Phìob – Singing the Pipes on the 29th October. With an accompanying ensemble featuring Ross Martin, James Lindsey, Ewen Henderson, Calum MacCrimmon and John Mulhearn, Glasgow’s magnificent St Andrew’s in the Square plays host to an evocative evening of music exploring the links between Gaelic Song and Céol Mór. Tickets are available here and updates can be followed on the Facebook event.’
Those who like their music entwined with words might like to get along to the Dumfries Arms Hotel in Cumnock, Ayrshire, tonight. The former mining town plays host the Cumnock Tryst, the brainchild of local man done good, Sir James MacMillan CBE the noted Scottish composer. Cumnock will be better known to pipers as the home town of Gordon Walker. Tonight sees some of Scotland’s best poets in recitation with music from the Whistlebinkies, Sir James’s favourite traditional group.