Editor’s Notebook: Virus Precautions/ U&B/ SPA KO Semi/ Piob Soc Conf & AGM/ Piping Centre Juniors/ Florida

2019 Uist & Barra Champion Finlay Johnston receives the Glasgow Highland Club Medal from representative Roddy MacPherson

Covid -19: It is too early to get drastic but all pipers must observe with more vigilance than ever the normal hygiene practices associated with our instrument. Keep that practice chanter clean, wash out the blowstick and bag with warm water and mild disinfectant. Don’t swap and share.

Will there may soon be a need for pipe majors to use antiseptic wipes every time they test a chanter or tune a drone? Who knows but let’s all do our bit to contain this nasty bug.


Super piping tonight at the SPA Semi-final KO when the brilliant Stuart Liddell takes on the brilliant Callum Beaumont. Venue is the NPC Otago Street with doors open at 7pm. Take your sleeping bag and stay around for the Uist & Barra in the same place tomorrow morning at 9. Defending his title will be Finlay Johnston the 2019 overall winner (pictured above).

Logan Tannock, the new President of the SPA, has asked me to remind everyone that entries close for the Adult Amateur competition this weekend. Entry form here.



Members of the Piobaireachd Society can access the AGM agenda and minutes from ‘News’ on the website home page. The schedule for the 2020 Conference (on March 21 in the NPC, Glasgow) is:

9.15 Welcome
9.20 Set Tunes discussion and demo: Laird of Anapool, Mrs MacLeod of Talisker
9.40 The Legacy of the MacKays, Raasay
10.15 Coffee/Tea
10.40 Set Tunes discussion and demo: Sound of Waves/ Lament for Donald Ban MacCrimmon
11.00 The Boys’ Brigade and its contribution to piping
11.30 Set Tunes discussion and demo: Unjust Incarceration/ Cherede Darievea
12.30 Lunch

1.30 Set Tunes discussion and demo: MacLeod of Colbeck/ King George III)
1.50 The Elusive Appogiatura
2.30 Coffee/Tea
2.50 The Life and Music of Hugh MacCallum
3.20 Set Tunes discussion and demo: Lament for the Harp Tree/ Lament for Patrick Og)
3.40 Close
4.15 AGM

The Conference is open to non-members of the Society and prices start at £10. Check them out here


Prizewinners at the NPC Juniors

Subsequent to our story about the judging errors at the Piping Centre junior contest, another parent has written. He said that his son was criticised for playing too fast yet when he looked up recommended timings on the internet and checked them against a recording of his son’s performance they were spot on. The timings were: 2/4 March 78 bpm, strathspeys 120bpm and a reel 84bpm.

Firstly, don’t believe everything you read on the internet. Not by a long chalk. And I would add that, for myself, I do not like children playing at professional tempi. It compromises fingering and expression. Much better that they are a little off the pace but play with accuracy and understanding of the required phrasing. The kid will be old enough soon enough.

I’ll give the father the last word however: ‘The Piping Centre is commonly acknowledged as a centre of excellence and the main hub of bagpiping. Is this monopoly justified given the quality and choice of judges and the errors associated with this competition? These in-house judges should be trained up to an appropriate level.’


Following the successful 2020 Florida Pipe & Drum Academy the promoters have announced that the 2021 school will run from Feb 21 to Feb 26 in Jacksonville. Registrations open on April 15 with student numbers capped at 20 pipers, 20 snare, 10 tenor, and three bass.

Instructors are myself, Barry Donaldson, Matt Pantaleoni, Donald McBride, Stephen Creighton and Simon Hodgett. Drumming students will receive a free pair of sticks and piping students will be provided with a new chanter reed. All levels of skill are welcomed.


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2 thoughts on “Editor’s Notebook: Virus Precautions/ U&B/ SPA KO Semi/ Piob Soc Conf & AGM/ Piping Centre Juniors/ Florida

  1. A tip regarding viruses: try placing onions (as they come: whole, unpeeled, and preferably with their roots) around the home/place of work. It’s an old country folklore tradition, believing that the onions will filter the air of viruses. I’ve been doing this over the last 15 years or so, and not caught the ‘flu and hardly ever a cold. I also use the yoga technique of gargling and sniffing up each nostril (using a teaspoon), a mild solution of tepid saltwater whenever I have come into contact with someone who has a cough or cold. Worth trying – and costs almost nothing !

  2. A monopoly by the exclusivity of authority and power must act with the highest standards of integrity in all situations, otherwise standards that have evolved can be questioned and eroded. Such breeches typically affect the most vulnerable first. Those young in experience who aspire to greater levels of accomplishment deserve to be treated fairly and with appropriate encouragement. If not, the entire organization suffers, even and including those who control the monopoly and erroneously assume their actions will not erode their power.

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