Editor’s Notebook

Final rehearsals today for tonight’s pipes and organ recital in the magnificent Paisley Abbey. Organist George McPhee is a remarkable musician. At 83 he’s been the Abbey’s man at the keyboard for more than 50 years. Another unsung musical hero from the west of Scotland.

George tells me the Abbey organ is the same as the main one in Notre Dame and that thankfully the Parisian ‘kist o’ whistles’ survived the recent devastating fire.

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I learned the other day that Hugh MacCallum has been in hospital for several weeks. I am sure everyone will join me in wishing Hugh a speedy recovery.

The younger generation may not know that Hugh was one of the master pipers of the 20th century winning major awards in both ceol mor and ceol beag time without number. Have a listen to Hugh from the PP Audio Archive:

I would also like to send best wishes for a speedy recovery to Eleanor MacFadyen who is also hospitalised at the moment. Eleanor is of course the wife of another 20th century piping giant, Iain MacFadyen. Get well soon Eleanor.

Hugh with Iain at the Northern Meeting reception a few years ago

Our publicist at the New England Pipe and Drum Academy is Brigid Flannery. She’s doing a great job in getting the school’s message across.

Here’s one of her testimonial pictures. Click on the pic if you’d like to sign up or get more info.

Renfrew Council are supporting their schools band. More local authorities should do the same. Here’s a blurb on the band issued yesterday: ‘Renfrewshire Schools Pipe Band will take to the arena at British Pipe Band Championships.

‘Pipe Major Keith Bowes admits competition will be tough: “Last year we came third – in our very first major championships.

“We are taking part in four of the five major championships this year. The Inverness trip will be first overnight trip together – it will be two days away with family there to support them, and that will be a great experience for the pupils.”

Renfrew Schools….benefiting from substantial investment from their local authority

‘The 17 pipers and 14 drummers in the band come from P6 up to secondary school. They each get expert tuition in their own schools from a team of instructors led by Keith – and gather once a week for full-band practice in Johnstone.

‘The band are part of a wider investment in school music by Renfrewshire Council – which this year put an additional £500,000 into keeping tuition free in all local schools to make sure all pupils can access the benefits culture has on young people’s wellbeing and achievement.

‘Keith added: “This is now third season of the band and every year numbers have gone up. There are now pipers and drummers across 20 different schools in Renfrewshire.

“You can see benefits in them – being in the band is improving their confidence and discipline, as well as their all-round music skills.

“I’ve seen young people join the pipe band and became friends with kids from other primary schools which feed into the same high school – so they made new friends before they got there.

“They are also learning what it means to represent their schools at school concerts and graduations.

“We are hoping to grow the band further – and also that when pupils they leave school will join one of the other local adult bands and help keep piping in Renfrewshire thriving.”

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