PP Editor’s Blog: Willie Paterson/ Clan MacRae Soc./Jim Cunningham/ Fife Police/ Reid’s Sticks

L/D Willie Patterson
L/D Willie Patterson

Drummer Willie Paterson featured in a photograph of the Rutherglen Pipe Band (in pic below, top right in civvies) a few weeks ago. An old edition of Pipe Band magazine has this about him: ‘Not a great deal is known about Willie’s early days in the pipe band movement.

‘Alex McCormick met up with him in Glasgow in the early 1940s and they remained friends for many years. A very knowledgeable musician and innovator, Willie tutored many drummers and successful drum corps, and both tutored and played with the famous Clan MacRae Society Pipe Band for a number of years. He was similarly involved with the Red Hackle and Rutherglen Pipe Bands and was a founder member in the 1950s of the Rolls Royce Pipe Band.image[4]

‘He wa a strong supporter of the SPBA College and a great advocate of drummers being able to read and write drum notation. Setting an example, he was amongst the first to successfully pass the College’s Advanced Certificate. Early in 1952, Willie combined with D/M Alex McCormick of the City of Glasgow Police Pipe Band, in the publication of ‘The Gaelic Collection’. Its inclusion of many modem pipe band snare drum scores was well received and proved very popular throughout the pipe band world. Willie retired from pipe bands in the early I960s and went to live in England where he passed away some years later.’

Here is part of Willie’s beating for Willie Fergusson’s 2/4 march ‘Clan MacRae Society’:beating


I was very shocked and saddened to hear from his wife Isabel of the passing of one of my former students, Jim Cunningham. Jim, a member of Pitlochry Pipe Band, died in a car crash last month. Although an adult learner, he showed diligence and talent and managed to combine his piping study with his high-level responsibilities in the North Sea oil industry. Through this connection he channelled thousands of pounds into piping charities, such was his dedication to our instrument.

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Piper Jim Cunningham

Always ready with a smile and a determination to get better, Jim inspired the classmates around him and was a constant source of encouragement for everyone. Such a sad end to a life well lived.


P/M Douglas Murray tells me his band Fife Police (pictured top) are looking forward to the trip to the Virginia Tattoo in the US this April. Douglas’s band are well capable of filling the shoes of Scottish Power who have had to pull out. Other bands going include P/M Stuart Liddell‘s Inveraray & District. Douglas said: ‘We were delighted to be asked to go on the trip and although final permission has not yet come through from the police authorities, we are hopeful there will be no last minute hitch. We will be playing in the Tattoo and taking part in a competition. I feel this sort of trip is great for a band’s morale and encourages everyone to work hard to make the visit a success.’



Here’s a YouTube link to the Tattoo promo. A press release reads: ‘On Saturday, April 23, 2016, the Virginia International Tattoo will host
the first annual Virginia International Tattoo American Pipe Band Championship on Scope Plaza in Norfolk, Virginia. The competition, which coincides with the Tattoo performance weekend, will be open to Grade 1 and Grade 2 pipe bands from around the world. Prizes will be awarded for both Grade 1 and 2 as follows: 1st Place – $2,500, 2nd Place – $1,000, and 3rd Place -$500. The program will also include an Open Drum Fanfare Competition with a single $1,000 prize. Participation is free for groups and spectators. Bands that participate in the Championship can apply for travel grants to help defray the cost of getting to the competition. The first 10 confirmed groups will be awarded the grants.

‘I am thrilled to see a contest like this happening within our borders,’ remarked Dan Cole, President of the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association. Cole, who has been working with the Tattoo organizers since January, is also assisting with the identification of judges and other efforts to ensure this contest is the premier pipe band event on the 2016 North American calendar. The competition will be adjudicated by two panels of four judges each, one for Medley and one for March, Strathspey, and Reel, known in the piping community as MSR. Also working on the Championship is the Tattoo’s pipe major and world-renown piping soloist, Andrew Carlisle. ‘Having the competition in April will give participating bands the opportunity to have their MSR and Medley selections evaluated very early in the year,’ said Carlisle. ‘For bands participating in other major competitions next year, hearing what the judges think in the spring can set you up for success later in the year. Engaging well­-respected judges who will provide the best, most useful feedback to these bands is one of our top priorities.’


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Reid Maxwell with the World Drum Corps Champion’s sash

Still with the bands, SFU’s L/D Reid Maxwell has brought out new, specially designed drumsticks. If someone would send us on a pair we’ll have them road-tested by our experts as we did for Stephen Creighton’s  sticks. Here’s part of the press release: ‘Innovative Percussion is proud to announce their very first pipe band Signature Artist, Mr. J. Reid Maxwell of the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band. Mr. Maxwell has been working with IP on designing a snare drum stick that aims to give pipe band drummers of all ages and abilities the highest level of quality, consistency and musical ability. The stick has been engineered to meet Mr. Maxwell’s exact specifications as well as Innovative Percussion’s standards for a world-class musical product.  ‘I am very excited to be joining forces with Innovative Percussion, a specialist in producing high quality drum sticks,’ stated Maxwell. ‘I am very happy with the design and quality of the new stick and anticipate you’ll enjoy playing them as much as I do.’ Visit www.innovativepercussion.com. ‘ Read Reid’s take on pipe band ensemble here.


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