PP Ed’s Blog: Monktonhall ’72/ Perth Games/ West Fife Schools/ SPA/ Alt Piob

Monktonhall Colliery Pipe Band in 1972. Can anyone supply the missing names?

What about this blast from the past from Donald McBride. Donald writes, ‘This was taken in 1972 after we got back from the CNE Festival in Toronto. Barry Donaldson is second from the left back row.

‘Dad [P/M Willie McBride] is far left middle row and next to him is Jennifer Hutcheon and, next to Jennifer, Les Hutt.’

Jennifer is now an RSPBA adjudicator after years of sterling work at schools teaching. Les is resident in Inverness where he does very valuable work for piping. Barry is the respected solo and pipe band adjudicator and schools teacher. Donald himself is front right kneeling and continues to combine teaching with a life of luxury in the US and Donegal.


Wasn’t that dispiriting news from Perth yesterday? I understand the financial rationale behind the games committee’s decision, however I can not understand why it costs so much to put on some piping at the games.

Even without sponsorship it should only cost by my estimate £640. Two judges happy to turn up for £100 each. Two events: Piobaireachd and MSR. Four prizes in each: £70, £60, £50, £40. Entries on the field. Two small canopies, two boards, two lunches.

This sort of arrangement pertains at many small games around the country. It allows the promoters to advertise that there’s is a proper, traditional Highland games. Something Perth can now no longer do.

Furthermore I wonder if they have reached out to the piping community for assistance in the way they could have?

There has been at least one comment on PP that they have not done so. Did they speak to the CPA? As I say, dispiriting.



More gloom I’m afraid. This from Alister Rae: ‘The West Fife Schools Pipe Band is disbanding and folding with effect from 12/03/19.

‘We have been unable to source replacement tutors and a P/M, therefore the majority of our competent players have left. As a consequence, our income from monthly subscriptions is now insufficient to meet our monthly expenses, i.e. we have to pay Fife Council for hire of the classrooms to practice. We also have to pay stand-in tutors. The position is not sustainable, therefore we’re calling it a day.’

When we read of some of the money that is squandered by central and local government it is worrying that a schools band in such a strong piping area is forced to disband.


The classic beginners tutor book now available in German

On a happier note we learn that the enlightened councillors of Renfrewshire have bucked the national trend by providing £500,000 to guarantee music teaching in their schools for the next three years.

Hearty congratulations to all those involved. The bean counters had been proposing fees of £669 per annum be charged for any child wishing to learn an instrument – and that included pipes and drums.

We all know what that would have meant. Well done to Johnstone Pipe Band for their benificent lobbying on this one.


SPA President Tom Johnstone: ‘Annual Adult Amateur and Veterans Contest – Please note we have had to change the date of this contest due to a clash.

‘It will most likely be held in October or November now, and will be held in conjunction with CLASP. Other dates:
Saturday 6th April – First Heat in the famous SPA ‘Knockout’
Saturday 13th April – Annual Professional Contest
Saturday 4th May – Second Heat in the famous SPA ‘Knockout’
Saturday 7th September – Annual Juvenile Contest
Details and entry forms in due course.
Please keep an eye on the SPA Facebook page.’


The Piobaireachd Society of Central Pennsylvania: ‘J. David Hester, PhD, will be leading a workshop based on his recent publication entitled ‘APC Guide to Pibroch’.

‘He will provide an introduction to some of the important historical and musical concepts behind pibroch performance, all of which are intended to help pipers learn how to perform their tunes musically.

Dr Hester giving a talk to the Piobaireachd Society in 2016

‘We will study them, find the musical core, sing it, shape it and play it. Every student will have the chance to explore their pibroch with all of us, and eventually play the urlar for us all.

‘Most pibroch is taught by means of mimicry. The problem with mimicry is that it very seldom leads to musicianship. David Hester describes his personal stylistic preferences as, roughly-speaking, a neo-MacDonald style.

‘This workshop will be less geared to sharing and teaching those particular preferences than in providing students with the tools for learning how to communicate phrasing, structure and musicality to their audience(s), regardless of style. Students will NOT be taught mimicry. At this workshop, students will be given the tools to understanding why they are playing what they are playing.’

Details: Saturday, March 30, 2019, 9 am to 5 pm and includes pizza for lunch. The Piobaireachd Society of Central Pennsylvania will be hosting the last Pibroch Pub Events on March 31st at Tellus360 from 1 to 4 p.m.


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3 thoughts on “PP Ed’s Blog: Monktonhall ’72/ Perth Games/ West Fife Schools/ SPA/ Alt Piob

  1. Correct with both!
    Alister Reid is the drummer with the stripes and is still drumming away I think.
    Hugh Muir on the far right had been the previous P/M and continued to teach many youngsters. It was great adventure for us youngsters at 14/15 at the time. The long trip in Boeing 707 was brightened up with a ceilidh, using the air hostesses’ mike- imagine that now!

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