PP Ed's Blog: Winter School/ George Sherriff/ Memorial/ BB Exhibition/ London Letter

The Northern Winter School is now in full swing and is turning out to be quite the thing. Forty one students – all pipers, no drummers yet unfortunately – working hard at an excellent youth hostel facility on the plains of Lower Saxony, Germany.
Principal Ronnie Bromhead has allocated me the piobaireachd class and I have eight enthusiastic students. We started on Duncan MacRae of Kintail yesterday and had the ground on the pipes by late afternoon. Trying to impress on them the need to be comfortable with the instrument. No need to blow strong reeds. As most come from a pipe band background this is a bit of a sea change. Late afternoon and we had a taster session on ceol mor for other interested students and we went through the Boat Tune.
Evening saw the instructors dinner with good banter and fine cheer. Craig Munro of Wallace Bagpipes told me that when he won the Worlds Grade 1 title  with Shotts in 2000 he was the youngest piper ever to have done so. Craig was only 15 at the time. This was later trumped by the remarkable Callum Beaumont who won the same title with SFU in 2008 when he was only 13. Can this be correct? It seems an extraordinary achievement, but then Callum is an extraordinarily gifted piper.
I remember his first teacher, the late Bert Smith, flagging up his talent many years ago.

Band practice at the Northern Winter School

Bob Worrall: Countdown to the 23rd Annual George Sherriff Memorial Invitational Competition this coming Saturday at St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, 70 James St. S., Hamilton, Ontario.
6/8 March event starts at 10 a.m. The Piobaireachd competition starts at 12:30 p.m.. The evening March, Strathspey & Reel event starts at 7:30 p.m.. Awards will take place at approximately 10 p.m.
The top 10 amateur bagpipers from across Canada and the United States will be competing for the prizes. And, it’s an amazing line up of prizes! All key details surrounding the competition can be found on our website: www.georgesherriffinvitational.com Come on out and support these extremely talented musicians.

John Kelly:  Ian Walker is pictured with his sons Kyle and Ross prior to laying a wreath at Lisburn War Memorial in memory of his brother Corporal Stephen Walker who was killed in Afghanistan on Friday 21st May 2010.  Included is piper Stanley Graham (PSNI Pipe Band) playing Flowers of the Forest. [wds id=”2″]

Are you an old BB man or a current member? If so you may be interested in this notice from the 214’s ex members association: The Glasgow Battalion of the Boys Brigade, currently have a display of memorabilia from the Glasgow City Archives in The Mitchell Library.
Running until 22nd November 2017, this special exhibition showcases Battalion records and BB history from its inception in Glasgow’s West End in 1883. There is a special talks by a BB historian on Wednesday 15th November at 2pm.

Peter Skae in New York has written: Thanks for the mention on Piping Press.  I truly enjoy reading your commentary as the honesty is critical to the betterment of our piping passion!  It has been an eye-opening journey back into competitive piping after being away from it for a while.  The inability to work with many incredibly learned pipers, due to the possibility of them judging an event, clearly presents a challenge.

I found it disappointing, with the number of competitors from the Clasp, C, B and even A players at the event, how few listened in at the Bratach.  They missed a great opportunity to listen to incredible performances.  Since we are prohibited from working with the judges, listening to the contest gives some indication of what the judges award prizes for.  While I understand the event offers a great opportunity to catch up with friends, I feel many missed out on some top-notch performances.  All the best Rob.
Thanks Peter. One of the great things about London is/was always the opportunity for pipers in the south, and those flying in, to hear top class music. I hope more will take advantage of listening to the Bratach in the future and that the competition continues to flourish. And you have highlighted the problem over this pupil/teacher stuff. It will only get worse unless the rule is amended or altered in some way. London winners are pictured up top.

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