Calling all band secretaries: a substantial number of pipe band contest entry forms are now available. These include those for all the major championships. You can access the forms via the events calendar on the RSPBA website. Please don’t forget the minor contests. They need your support.
Hard to believe that it is only seven weeks or so to the first major, British, at the new venue at Paisley. If you don’t already know them, here are the dates of all the 2016 Major Championships:
May 21 – British at Paisley
June 11 – UKs at Stormont
June 25 – Europeans at Forres
July 30 – Scottish at Dumbarton
Aug 12/13 – Worlds at Glasgow Green
Just to remind everyone, the April edition of Pipe Band Magazine will be available a week from now via the RSPBA website.
The nationalist-leaning Herald newspaper had a feature the other day on piping. The writer, Ron McKenna, lamented the lack of piping tuition in our state schools: ‘You’re lucky if there is a pipe band near you. But what about in school? Well, there are schools pipe band championships doing great work, and pushing bands in schools, but..apparently they’re pretty much privately funded by pretty much one person. The Scottish state? It’s promotion of our culture into our children’s lives? Hmm.
‘There are school bands, but many of them seem to be based in the private schools. Gordonstoun, The Glasgow Academy, The High School of Glasgow. What if..to paraphrase Freddie Mercury…you’re just a poor kid from a poor school? Or even just an ordinary kid from an ordinary state school? In the country that is the global home of the bagpipes? You’ll be able to learn the chanter? Surely? You may want to sit down for this. It has been said that you can learn any instrument in an Edinburgh state school as long as it’s not the bagpipes. Unless you are taking it for an exam. There is, according to the authoritative Piping Press website, only one piping instructor in the whole of the city of Glasgow – and he teaches mainly in one school.
‘There are however, just shy of 300 teachers of strings, percussion and guitar in Scottish schools. Almost 180 of them violin teachers. Chanter or pipes? Just 34 teachers for around 700,000 pupils. And they’re seldom seen in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Councils push kids to learn instruments that they have teachers for. But why do they not have teachers for the pipes? In Scotland? Nicola? We should be told.’
Well done to Mr McKenna and his paper for taking up the cause.
Sandy Hain in Ohio has sent us a short letter and some photographs including the one up top up of him playing at Edinburgh Castle. It was taken as a publicity shot for the Black Watch’s tour of the US in 1957. Read the letter and see Sandy’s other pics here.
Due to a small entry, President Tom Johnstone has announced that Saturday’s Scottish Pipers’ Association Adult Amateur/ Veterans competition will now start at 12 noon instead of 10am. Venue is the College of Piping.