The official handover of the Directorship of the Army School of Piping and Highland Drumming has taken place. Major Steven Small, who has served the post with such distinction, has retired after 35 years in the Army and will take up a new job with the Edinburgh Tattoo.
His successor is Captain Gordon Rowan who was Major Small’s second in command at Inchdrewer House in Edinburgh, the School’s HQ. The above picture shows the two officers in front of the Piper’s Memorial at the School. Major Small (left) is receiving an engraved silver practice chanter to mark his retiral.
Since its inception in 1910, the Army School has been one of the pillars of the piping establishment and Major Small was instrumental in successfully organising a series of events which commemorated the centenary of its founding. This included a dinner and other important events.
Of his retirement Major Small said: ‘It has been an honour to serve Army Piping and Drumming through my work at the School. I would like to thank all those who gave me such support during my term of office. I move on after 35 years service in the Army. It seems to have flown by as I look backwards but it has provided me with some fantastic highlights and memories. My next phase begins soon as I take up a full-time position with the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo company, heading up the Pipers Trail project. It will provide a positive challenge and one which I very much look forward to.
‘I feel privileged to have been able to work alongside some amazing people, civilian and military. I hope that I have managed to care for and develop the School during my time here. The ‘landscape’ has changed in so many ways, but our traditions and history must adapt in order to survive, so I have tried my best to secure the future – by enhancing the real estate, adapting the training environment, and by selecting good solid soldiers to carry on the work, be it on the staff or at regular duty. They do a very demanding job and produce music in spite of it.
‘I leave the School in very good hands as I pass it over to Gordon Rowan, who will do an excellent job I am in no doubt. He has a great team on the staff here and there are a number of good prospects for the succession plan. I will look on with interest.’
Captain Rowan said: ‘Major Small has left such a legacy here at the school that the transition has gone very smoothly. Army Piping & Drumming owes him a great debt of gratitude and I will do all I can to ensure that his good work continues here at Inchdrewer well into the future.’
Captain Rowan follows in a long line of Directors of the Army School, instituted at the instigation of the Piobaireachd Society as the Army Class in 1910:
- P/M John MacDonald, Inverness 1910-1914
- P/M John Grant 1914-1918
- P/M William Ross (Scots Guards), 1919-1957
- P/M George Stoddart (Royal Highland Fusiliers), 1958
- P/M Donald MacLeod (Seaforth Highlanders), 1959
- Captain John MacLellan (Queen’s Own Highlanders), 1959-1976 (the first to hold the title ‘Director’)
- Captain Andrew Pitkeathly (Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders), 1976-1981
- Major John Allan (Queen’s Own Highlanders), 1981–1990
- Major Gavin Stoddart (Royal Highland Fusiliers), 1990–2003
- Captain Stuart Samson (The Highlanders), 2003–2007
- Major Steven Small (Black Watch), 2007–2016
- Captain Gordon Rowan (5th Batt. (Argylls) Royal Regiment of Scotland (2016 – )
The Army School of Bagpipe Music and Highland Drumming (ASBM&HD) offers courses in piping and drumming at all levels for members of any Regular Regiment in the British Army that has pipes and drums. These are:
- Royal Scots Dragoon Guards
- 1st Royal Tank Regiment
- 1st Battalion Scots Guards
- 1st Battalion Irish Guards
- 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland
- 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland
- 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland
- 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland
- 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland
- 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment
- 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles
- 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles
- Queen’s Royal Hussars
- Royal Dragoon Guards
- 19th Regiment Royal Artillery
- 40th Regiment Royal Artillery
- Royal Corps of Signals
Additionally they provide support to community engagement and recruiting events, as well as monitoring the standards of each unit’s pipes and drums. Co-ordination of all joint events involving pipes and drums (such as The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo) is also undertaken at ASBM&HD.