PP Ed’s Blog: South Florida/ Donald McBride/ Crossgare/ Burns Night/ Colin MacLellan

Noah Morrissette of the South Florida Pipe & Drum Academy: Happy New Year! We hope everyone had a fantastic holiday. It seems to be quite cold everywhere. Here in South Florida we’re experiencing highs in the mid 70s all week.

We hope all of our students and instructors living in the north and in Scotland are keeping warm. I bet you’re counting the days until you get to come to Florida for a week of warm weather piping and drumming, while the snow piles up on your driveway!

We are making final preparations, and look forward to getting the Academy underway. We have had some great suggestions as to what you all want to learn. We’re looking at an afternoon in the park where we’ll receive instruction, practice forming up as a band, then have a mock competition. As the Academy gets closer we’ll have more details

Prices will increase $50 to $500 from tomorrow Jan 12, so sign up ASAP. Tuition includes five days of instruction in a small class room environment and in a mass band setting, one on one instruction, lunch daily, and coffee and beverages throughout the day. Thank You to all of you who have registered so far or plan to do so.


One of the instructors at South Florida is Donald McBride. Few people realise what a superb piper Donald is. From a very young age he impressed each time he took to the boards. Taught by his father, Donald MacPherson and then Bob Hardie, you can hear the quality in his playing in this set of jigs from 1973 when only a mere speug. Donald is introduced on the BBC by John MacFadyen:Donald is pictured up top playing at a concert in Brest in Brittany in 1982.


Upper Crossgare Pipe Band held their annual fundraising ‘Table Quiz’ last month. After P/M Mark Rodgers gave out the prizes, supper was served.  Mark thanked all who attended with special thanks to those who helped organise the evening. The picture above is of Upper Crossgare in 1985 with former P/M Ivor Chambers far left front row. Second from left in front is P/M Rodgers then just 15.



It won’t be long until Burns Night with those doing their annual homage to the Bard getting ready to pipe in the haggis. Iain Duncan did an excellent book for me when I was at the College of Piping. The ‘Complete Burns Piper’ offered a comprehensive run down on what to do and what not to do on the evening. It may still be available from the CoP.

For me I always, obviously, make sure the pipes are in order as tuning rooms at some venues are less than adequate. Get there early  and do a walk through with the other participants. Have a few tunes in mind in case you re asked to give a selection in addition to the march in with the steaming pud. For the latter, A Man’s a Man is a favourite even if we can’t quite get all the notes. Rantin’ Rovin’ Robin works well as do any of the Burns related tunes such as Gang Nae Mair Tae Yon Toon and Reel of Stumpie.


How the Daily Mail covered the story

Those who feel PP has been a little one-sided in our coverage of the Colin MacLellan/ Barry Donaldson story would be right. Despite formal and informal approaches offering Colin space on these pages, there’s been nothing from him. That is his prerogative.

But, as a consequence, two questions remain unanswered: Why did he make damaging comments about a fellow adjudicator without offering good reason for doing so, and why did he follow that up by saying to a pipe band in Germany that Barry Donaldson was ‘not good enough’ to teach at their local piping school contrary to all the evidence?

Lessons learned from this sorry business? When you err you put your hands up, apologise and move on. You do not go into ‘me the victim’ denial mode, circle the wagons and hope that the mistake will just go away. Do that and you play into the hands of a watchful press. Hence the widespread coverage in Piping Press, the highly embarrassing article in the Daily Mail and the lame, belated damage limitation effort from Colin’s friend in Canada.


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