Well here we are in sunny Florida for the second annual South Florida Pipe and Drum Academy. The temperature is in the 70s and though there was torrential rain for a period yesterday the conditions were near perfect for our outdoor massed band.
This, and all our classes, are being held at a fine facility belonging the Boca Raton Fire Department and our grateful thanks and that of the 45 students go them for their generosity and warm welcome.
The instructors, myself, Barry Donaldson, Matt Pantaleoni, Donald MacBride, Tommy Johnston and Andrew Adams are staying at a nice holiday villa a short drive away from the college – pleasant gardens and a nice pool.
In the piping classes, our first couple of days have concentrated on improving the pipers’ dexterity and control and everyone has a copy of the Bagpipe Tutor 1 – designed and written specifically along those lines.
The students are very appreciative of the support the Academy has been given by our sponsors McCallum Bagpipes, Shepherd Bagpipes, Pipe Dreams, D Naill & Co, G1 Reeds and William Sinclair and I explained that when approached these companies were unhesitating in their generosity.
Last evening was spent in a pub in downtown Boca where I gave a short lecture on piping and pipe band history and played a few tunes. The students then competed the festivities with a pipe and drum ceilidh – something that was enjoyed by everyone.
The organisers Noah Morrissette, Jason Sekula and the irrepressible Iggy MacSorley are certain that with the correct approach the Academy will continue to grow in years to come and pointed ut that we already had a number of out-of-town pupils attending.
Our aim is to effect a significant improvement in the standard of piping and drumming in this part of the US. The Academy now has its own set of piping exams but also offers PDQB certificates too.
The picture up top shows our first day band practice. More shots on Facebook.
Whilst on the subject of North American piping and drumming schools, P/M Alan Bevan of SFU Pipe Band has sent this snap via piper Jori Chisholm. It was taken at the 1993 Couer d’Alene school piobaireachd banner contest. The left to right is yours truly, Rob Barbulak, Andrew Bonar, Dave Hicks, Alan himself, Colin Clansey, winner Jamie Troy and my fellow adjudicator and tutor at the camp Andrew Wright. Rob was tragically killed in a car accident a few years later and is the ‘Robert’ in the SFU’s Robert Malcolm Memorial Pipe Band. 1993 was my last year at the school and it no longer operates but in its time, and over four decades, it was a major force for piping good in the Pacific North West and in BC. Apart from Andrew and myself other instructors included James Campbell, Bob Hardie and Jimmy MacGregor. Andrew was a perfect attendee for more than 35 years.
Full results from last Saturday’s National Piping Centre Juvenile contest have been posted on our Results pages. Well done to everyone who took part.
President Tom Johnstone has sent this reminder about the next round of the SPA KO: ‘Players for the first semi-final of our Knockout contest series have been announced as John Patrick versus Angus MacColl. These two are both former winners of the contest so it should be a fantastic evening of piping. Date is Saturday 12th March at College of Piping, 7.00pm for 7.30pm Full bar service available. Please come early for a dram, a chat and to ensure a good seat.’