Piping & Drumming Upsurge in South West Scotland Thanks to Local Academy

There is great work being done for piping and drumming by the South West Scotland Piping and Drumming Academy. Building on a tradition established by John Cowan, Walter Cowan (pictured instructing above), Alfie Geddes, Ian Clowe, Jim McConnachie and the late Tony MacDonald, the South West Scotland Piping & Drumming Academy is forging ahead with a programme of tuition which is sure to produce many top-level players if not champions in their own right. Here is the latest from the Academy Chairman Andrew McCartney:

Andy McCartney

We are now teaching in 10 schools throughout Dumfries and Galloway, plus we have an invitation to address pupils and parents at the new high school in Dalbeattie when it opens next month. This involves the school itself and four attached primary schools.

We have a working weekend planned for both pipers and drummers from Friday 12th until Sunday 14th January 2018, in conjunction with the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland. This will culminate with a concert in the local parish church in Kirkcudbright on the Sunday afternoon, and will feature the NYPBofS and some of our own young students.

The weekend will be mainly for residential students, but local students will be able to attend on a daily basis as accommodation is limited. The concert in Kirkcudbright on the Sunday will be open to anyone and admission will be free.

SWSPDA piobaireachd instructor Bill Geddes gives an impromptu recital at a workshop at Barfil Farm

Our 2018 Summer School is scheduled to be held, once again, at SRUC Barony Campus near Dumfries from Sunday 8th until Friday 13th July. This is for both resident students and local students attending on a daily basis.

The South West of Scotland Piping & Drumming Academy Juvenile Competition for piping and drumming is scheduled to be held in Locharbriggs Primary School (venue to be confirmed) on Saturday 29th September 2018.

Monthly piobaireachd workshops are scheduled to re-commence later this month and will be held in the classrooms at Barfil Farm, Crocketford, by kind permission of Bob Lee and Maggie Gordon.



Any wannabe pipers or drummers are welcome to contact me on my mobile 07754 326746 or home telephone 01556 502722. Very many thanks for your help with all this.

The SWSPDA have negotiated free entry to the Glenfiddich Piping Championship for their students and are laying on a bus for the occasion. The blurb: ‘The Championships start in Blair Atholl at 10am on Saturday 28th October. A free bus will be provided, leaving from Dumfries at around 06:30! Time to be confirmed. Limited places – to register an interest, contact Helen Keron on swspda2@gmail.com.’

Local schools teacher Callum Moffat of Scottish Power Pipe Band. Callum, from Lockerbie, has contributed greatly to the upsurge in piping in the south-west and works closely with the Academy. Callum is a prize-winning solo piper in his own right

SWSPDA’s purpose is straightforward. We aim to raise the standard of, to increase participation in, and to raise enthusiasm for piping and drumming in the South West of Scotland. We will work with pipe bands and schools and directly with individuals giving bagpipe lessons. We will draw on the entire piping and drumming community to find the best tuition for those in our region who wish to make their music the best it can be.

The kinds of things the music institute can do include organising tutoring workshops and our summer school, encouraging and supporting tuition in schools and arranging performances and events. In future, as funds allow, the Academy aims to provide financial assistance such as scholarships, bursaries and travel grants.

In addition, the Academy seeks to bring the region’s piping community  together by providing a communications forum and network for pipers and drummers and pipe band leaders.

The SWSPDA as an organisation consists of a Strategic Board of all Trustees to which a Management Board reports. The Management Board is in charge of the day-to day running of the Academy and consists of the Chair, the Vice-Chair and the Leaders of each of five Working Groups – ‘Administration’, ‘Tutoring’, ‘Schools’, ‘Summer School’ and ‘Social Media’.


3 thoughts on “Piping & Drumming Upsurge in South West Scotland Thanks to Local Academy”

  1. I can concur that the Piping and Drumming Academy has been very successful over the past few years, my daughter having attended the inital summer school and workshops. I have supported SWSPDA and been a part of the team until recently (my daughter having hit her teens is no longer an active member, unfortunately!), however I would like to say that Jim McConnachie is no support. I am well aware of his tuition, my daughter having started on chanter with him. However when he decided to bring in more piping and drumming tutors to create a local pipe band, then quickly stepping back and making his pupils choose to either be a solo player under his training, or a band player, my daughter then continued with the band and progressed well. I am the secretary currently and we have worked closely with other local bands and tutors very successfuly. Jim discourages his pupils to attend the local Piping Club, which I think you attended when my daughter played, and has had his entire group boycott a local competition as he was unhappy with one of the judges chosen. Jim may have pupils that progress and do well, however he is not supportive at all of other local groups nor encourages any of his pupils to attend further tuition from other local talent. This is my own personal opinion however I think if you spoke to others in the piping community here, this would be echoed. The others you mentioned have been great for pipers in the area and should be applauded, however.

    1. I appreciate what you say Mrs Cranmer but Jim had done great work with the Corberry Park Pipers and is an expert teacher. I am sure there is room in the south west for both schools and perhaps one day you will be able to join forces for the common good.RW

      1. Jim had been invited to meetings when this was all getting off the ground. It’s a great shame as there is a real split within the area, which we tried many times to discuss. Like I said, my daughter was under his tuition for about a year and I was very supportive. When she moved on and started with the band we saw what was on our doorstep. I agree it’s good to work together, Mr Wallace, and of course it’s about the pupils, not the tutors. I think that’s where the issues lie, unfortunately. Again, I’m not really involved much at the moment but it’s good to have a thriving local scene. Kind regards

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *