PP Ed’s Blog: Juvenile Bands/ 277 Pic/ John MacLellan/ Archie Kenneth/ Florida

I’m told that there a few juvenile and novice juvenile pipe bands who are considering not playing in these grades. They cannot compete against the highly organised and well-financed teaching programmes at some of the private school bands and therefore, rather than opt for a hiding every weekend, may decide to take their chances in the adult grades such as 4a and 4b.

If this is the case then we might be getting closer to the time when bands are graded not just on age but also on the level that they play at. If Dollar Academy (pictured top) and George Watson’s can regularly reach a Grade 2 standard – and many believe they can and do – then should they not be tested against that level of ability rather than against a smaller state school band which only has perhaps two or three peripatetic teachers visiting each week?

This is not to be critical of the bands who can afford full-time instructors. Good luck to them; it is wonderful what can be achieved when dedicated staff, parents and talented pupils work so hard to produce excellence. But when we have bands of youngsters being forced, as they see it, out of the grades designed for them then it is time for some discussion by the authorities.

And if there are under-18 bands playing out of grade because of this situation we might have to look at the rules governing applications to the National Juvenile Pipe Band Fund. At the moment disbursements are made only to deserving Novice and Juvenile bands on the RSPBA’s lists.

Anyone any thoughts?

Despite extreme turbulence from a north-east US winter storm, we arrived in West Palm Beach last night none the worse and ready to do battle at the South Florida Pipe & Drum Academy. Our accommodation is superb: a large villa with heated pool only four miles from the Academy venue.

No problems at the border checks; indeed there was very little regard paid to the pipes following the recent African blackwood alert. I wondered if those on duty were aware of the January CITES ruling. The fewer who know about it the better as far as travelling musicians are concerned.

Today we will plan the classes for the school generally try to get into the rhythm of Florida Trumpland. (His luxury complex where he recently played golf with the Japanese prime minister is only a few miles away from ours.) Temperatures here in the pleasant high 70s.

Jimmy McIntosh has sent this: ‘I enjoyed the Seaforth [a recent addition to the PP Audio Archive which Jimmy had not heard] and had a couple of messages from people about it. Thanks for putting it on. I have two corrections to make. The picture of John MacLellan [above] was not at Fort George  but was at Edinburgh Castle when the Pipe Majors Course started up again in 1946.

The second one concerns the Seaforth when I was runner-up to Donald Morrison who I think played The Blue Ribbon.  I was runner-up to Donald McPherson {in the Clasp} and in that instance we both played the Nameless Hio Tro Tro. I followed him on.’

Stuart Coils has sent this: ‘Hi Rab. Re Stewart G’s picture of the 277 & identifying those within, top right, last two on the row are Jim Kitchen (with the moustache) and certainly Dougie McCracken (one in), both hailing from my hometown of Greenock. Dougie is healthy and well still staying in the town, where I bump into him now and again. Jim unfortunately passed away sometime ago but prior to that was always a permanent fixture on the games circuit, always immaculately dressed carrying a bag of goodies and  without doubt always in the company of the delightful raconteur Derry McDermid who hailed from Rothesay; a sort of Jack/Victor combo before we knew who they were. By the way, Dougie’s not changed at all.’

Nicholas Taitz on the 277 pic: ‘2nd row, on the end on the left – right for the viewer, is Roy Blevins, who played for Richmond for many years here in South Africa. He was also a member before that of the Clan MacFarlane band in Canada with Ken Eller’

Can I reiterate again that advertising on Piping Press Facebook is only for those who advertise here, the main Piping Press magazine site. It is not fair on our current advertisers who do so much to keep this site going that they should have their space invaded by freeloaders.

Archie Kenneth….tunes of merit

The recent efforts by Colin MacLellan to promote his father’s tunes and sell the new book containing them is laudable and understandable, but we should not run away with the idea that Captain John was the only composer of good ‘modern’ piobaireachd. (Knowing him well, he would have been the last person to want us to think along those lines). Recently, thanks to a student, I have had reason to explore the works of the late Archie Kenneth and found them rewarding. I would urge all those with an interest in ceol mor to do the same. I think many of the tunes are of merit, worthy of study and perhaps even being set for Oban and Inverness.

1 thought on “PP Ed’s Blog: Juvenile Bands/ 277 Pic/ John MacLellan/ Archie Kenneth/ Florida

  1. Regarding the photo of the 277: I think I just spotted Alec Price standing behind the bass drum! Can anyone confirm this? He also played in the Clan MacFarlane band in St.Cathariines; first under my teacher Jimmy Greig, and then under Kenny Eller.

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