PP Ed’s Blog: Angus Funeral/ SFU Store/ East Ayrshire/ Schools Teaching

Angus Lawrie’s funeral with be at Ayr Crematorium on Wednesday, December 19 at 1.15pm.

Angus, five times winner of the Worlds crown with Strathclyde Police Pipe Band, passed away last weekend aged 88.

Originally from Oban, Angus was taught piping by his father. After leaving the police he was briefly P/M of the Britoil and Johnstone Pipe Bands but then concentrated on his composing and on establishing his pipe bag making business at his home in Doonfoot in Ayrshire. 

Following an earlier article on the Army tradition of ‘Long Reveille’, Angus sent me his own score written in his own hand:

Part of Angus’s ‘Long Reveille’

Download the complete Long Reveille music here:

Angus as P/M of Britoil

SFU’s Kevin McLean: I just wanted to let you know that the SFU Pipe Band launched a new online store today. 

All proceeds support the band and the band’s youth organization (the Robert Malcolm Memorial Pipe Bands). 

It features our entire music library, shirts (for men and women), hoodies, hats, a youth section, and many miscellaneous items including mugs, a towel, socks, phone cases etc. Please feel free to share. Thanks!

The RMM band blurb reads: ‘The RMM Pipe Bands program is comprised of motivated youth, teens, and adults in a graduated development system for pipers and drummers, including beginner levels and a band in each of competition grades 5, 4, 3, and 2. Players receive weekly band instruction and solo performances instruction from members of the SFU Pipe Band to advance their musical skills toward entry in the SFU Pipe Band…’

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Paul Warren, Project Manager at East Ayrshire Pipe Band Academy:
Please click on this link for a wee insight to what we’re up to as we come to the end of our very first term.

200 pupils from 12 primary schools.  There’s a long road ahead but the future of piping and drumming in East Ayrshire is on the up.

Despite the above, piping and drumming tuition, indeed all music teaching, is a post code lottery in Scotland recent reports have confirmed.

I hear that two schools in Dumfries have recently withdrawn matched funding for piping tuition.

Luckily kids in the area have the South West Scotland Academy to fall back on.

The Scottish Government and the local authorities who run our schools are at each others throats over who to blame for pricing hundreds of kids out of learning an instrument. 

John Swinney, the Education Minister, told a government inquiry that only ‘some’ local authorities ‘recognise the value’ of not charging for instrumental music tuition.

West Lothian Schools Pipe Band

But he ruled out providing direct funding grants from central government to allow the other local authorities to abolish their charges.

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) blamed the SNP government’s ‘chronic underfunding’ of councils, with £1.64 billion of real-terms cuts since 2011/12.

The Daily Telegraph reported: ‘Holyrood’s education committee has previously heard how more than two-thirds of Scotland’s 32 councils now charge for music lessons, with parents facing a postcode lottery of fees. 

‘While the cost is £117 per year for secondary pupils in Inverclyde, Clackmannanshire Council recently doubled its fees to £524 per year, or £17.50 per half-hour class.

‘It emerged last month that the introduction of fees has led to more than 1,200 fewer pupils learning an instrument in just one year.

‘Meanwhile, the number of music instructors has fallen to an all-time low of 667 in primary and secondary schools compared to 1,043 in 2007.

‘Professor Jeffrey Sharkey, the principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, has warned children aged between eight and ten now whose parents cannot afford the fees will not have the required expertise in a decade’s time to get into his globally renowned arts school.

‘Mr Swinney admitted the charges risked creating barriers for children wanting to play an instrument, but argued that cuts in the Scottish Government’s local authority grants were not responsible.

‘The Deputy First Minister told the committee: ‘Some local authorities recognise the value of instrumental music tuition and want to put in place no barriers to the access of instrumental music tuition as a consequence of the decisions that they’ve made.’

‘He listed Dundee, Edinburgh, the Western Isles, Glasgow, Orkney, Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire as authorities that had not introduced charges.

‘But Mr McCabe told the inquiry: “The fundamental issue is not about ringfencing one area or protecting services, it is the chronic underfunding of local government over the last 10 years which this Parliament has presided over.

‘Asked what poor youngsters should do if their families cannot afford the tuition costs, he said: ‘That’s life unfortunately, that’s part of the reflection of the unequal society that we live in.’

‘He said music tuition is a ‘discretionary service’ in Scotland’s schools but Holyrood could legislate to change this.’

None of the above surprises me. It is a shocking indictment on our politicians of whatever persuasion that they cannot get this sorted.

This situation has existed for years and is why the College of Piping always kept its prices as affordable as possible, free if necessary.

This was not my policy but dated from the College’s inception in 1944.

All the surveys point to an array of benefits to children from music teaching.

If you are a concerned parent my advice? Stick with your local band. There you’ll find dedicated individuals ready to teach who won’t worry about the size of your bank balance. 

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1 thought on “PP Ed’s Blog: Angus Funeral/ SFU Store/ East Ayrshire/ Schools Teaching

  1. Has not Piping Live and the world interest in the World’s resulted in a large injection of funds into Scotland?

    Could theynot allocate a larger portion of this ´windfall’ into building a stronger foundation for the futture? Perhaps the organizers could make the proviision of quality instruction and subsidy of such their highest priority. Long term thinking is required.

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