PP Ed’s Blog: Duncan Johnstone/ Preston Lodge/ Reay Mackay/ Letters/ Paddy’s Day

Tomorrow sees the Duncan Johnstone competition for B & C Grade pipers honouring the memory of ‘the piper’s piper’. The contest is held in the Piping Centre in Cowcaddens so get along to hear some good playing if you are in Glasgow. Results as soon as we get them. Here is the playing order:

Lee Moore: Please find attached the programme for the East Lothian Solo and Miniband Competition tomorrow at Preston Lodge High School. Events will start at 10am. Prize Giving at 3pm. Access to tuning rooms from 9am. Entry for non-competitors is £3 per Adult, Children/Concessions £1. Refreshments and hot food will be served throughout the day. Please support our programme sponsors. Competition Programme2017

Reay (left) judging with Jimmy McIntosh at the US Piping Foundation a few years ago

Sorry to hear about the passing of Reay Mackay in Canada. I didn’t really know him well though I judged the George Sherriff amateur contest with him a few years back and found him a thorough gentleman. Jim MacGillivray has sent us this short tribute: ‘Like Ed Neigh, in the last 25 years Reay became a piping citizen of North America, unstoppable when it came to travelling all around the continent to judge and teach. Never really a presence in the UK, he was ubiquitous, loved and respected in Canada and the eastern US. Outspoken, and with a fantastic memory for history. His hornpipe Colin Mackay (for his father), written when he was 13, is one of great hornpipes.’

Couple of new letters posted today the first from George Taylor on the possibility of switching arms for playing and the other from Ken Rogers about Jim MacWilliams’ article on the early day schools in Saskatchewan. Read both letters here.

Liam (in blue shirt) leads his class at NEPADA 2016

Happy St Paddy’s Day to our readers, principally those in Ireland and the US who will be out on parade at some point today. One such is our student at the New England Pipe & Drum Academy Liam Geer from Rhode Island. A story about him appeared in his local paper during the week: ‘Liam Geer has played an instrument that was larger than him for more than half his life. Geer, still only 17 and a senior at Middletown High School, was just a lad of eight when he first picked up the practice chanter. At Gooseberry Beach in July [2008] he saw the Ancient Order of Hibernian (AOH) Pipe and Drum Band practicing in the parking lot.

‘I spoke to a couple of the guys in the band,’ he said. ‘I asked them if they enjoyed it, and they told me they loved it. I went to a practice and they told me, ‘Listen, if you are going to come here and practice, you are going to need to really work at it.’ Every day, I did.’ He has progressed so well on the pipes that he has become an instructor and plans to attend Iona College in New York, where he will play and teach music.

Well done to Liam. I remember when he first came to the camp and could barely play. Now he has correct fingering, blows a good sound and has a keen appreciation of timing.