The biggest free bagpipe loan scheme in the world is being set up by a Scottish schools’ charity. The instruments are being loaned out for up to three years at a time to help boost the number of youngsters taking up Scotland’s national instrument.
Already over 160 sets costing about £700 each are being played by pupils in schools from Orkney to the Borders – eventually 500 sets of pipes will be available for loan at a total cost of over £350,000.
The initiative is coming from the Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust which is involved in 18 of Scotland’s council areas supporting teaching of more than 2,500 pupils each week.
Trust chief executive Alexandra Duncan said: “We recognise that the big cost of pipes is a barrier to people progressing with the instrument – hence the free loan scheme.
‘The idea is to give our young players time to get to grips with the pipes and let them be certain of their ability before taking the plunge and buying their own.’
Ms Duncan added that a lot of the Trust’s work was being carried out in schools in disadvantaged areas where the cost of pipes is a real challenge to parents.
Instruments are being sourced from a number of Scotland’s leading bagpipe makers after a tendering process. The picture top shows Craig Munro of Wallace Bagpipes with some of the recipients at Tynecastle High School, Edinburgh.
‘Piping and drumming is extremely popular with youngsters and too few are being offered the opportunity to take it up in schools. Pipe bands help young people to build resilience, teamwork, friendships and confidence and to achieve better outcomes when they finish secondary education,’ she said.
One recently launched piping and drumming programme is centred on Whitehill Secondary School in the east end of Glasgow. That council’s head of instrumental music services, Pam Black, said: ‘Historically Whitehill has been extremely difficult to get take up for instruments like strings and brass. The pipes and drums programme is oversubscribed with over 100 pupils wanting to join in. The take up is excellent and we have not had any dropouts.’
Alexandra Duncan is inviting schools and councils to apply through the SSPDT website www.sspdt.org.uk for the free loan of pipes to support teaching programmes.