Balmoral Schools in USA Go Virtual/ Gordon Duncan Trust Awards Announced

The promoters of the popular Balmoral Summer Schools in the US have sent this:

Coming soon to a desktop near you! The Balmoral School of Piping & Drumming will hold its 2020 summer school sessions via Zoom. Joining us through the magic of the internet will be three acclaimed instructors from Scotland, Ireland and Nova Scotia, all with incomparable records of teaching and promoting pipe music around the world. 

From Hamilton, Scotland, Robert Mathieson is a composer of pipe music, as well as an award-winning pipe major. He served as pipe major of the Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band from 1986 to 2010. The band won 30 major championships under Mathieson’s leadership and was a five-time winner of the World Pipe Band Championship.

Former pipe major of the Grade 1 St Laurence O’Toole Pipe Band, Terry Tully, is one of the most influential composers of bagpipe music in Ireland. Under Tully’s leadership, SLOT won the Scottish and British 2008 Piope Band Championships, and was the first pipe band from the Republic of Ireland to win the Grade One World Championship. Terry performed with iconic traditional band the Chieftains at Carnegie Hall in NYC and has appeared on three of the band’s albums.

Bruce Gandy was a member of the 78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe Band when they were the first non-Scottish pipe band to win the World Pipe Band Championships in 1987. His solo awards include the Canadian Gold Medal, Gold Medal at the Northern Meeting, Gold Medal at Oban, and Bratach Gorm. He is a three-time winner of the MacCrimmon Memorial Cairn for piobaireachd at the Vancouver Indoor Meet and is a six-time Metro Cup winner.

Summer drumming instructor and head of Balmoral’s drumming programme, Gordon Bell, a EUSPBA Overall Champion from 1979-1987, has over 30 years experience instructing drummers. Gordon is a veteran of many top Grade 1 pipe bands.

In virtual classes of five or fewer, students will receive instruction on the Highland pipes, Scottish smallpipes, snare, tenor drum and bass drum. Tech help will be made available for those not familiar with Zoom. Balmoral will also offer social hours or ‘mixers’ via Zoom in which students can discuss topics related to piping and drumming, or just get to know each other.

Gordon Bell, Robert Mathieson and Terry Tully

A big part of the Balmoral experience is our community. Even in our virtual schools, we will give our students the opportunity to network, as well as to make friends who share a common interest in piping and drumming.

The Balmoral School of Piping & Drumming is a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organisation founded and maintained in Pittsburgh, PA since 1979. It our mission ‘to raise the standard and promote the appreciation of bagpipe music in the USA by providing world class instruction, cultivating excellence in youth, presenting innovative musical events, and fostering tradition’.

Learn during the lockdown!

Gordon Duncan Memorial Trust

Great offers of cash assistance to struggling pipers and folk musicians in this new intiative from the Gordon Duncan Memorial Trust (GDMT). Already the Trust has awarded grants to 85 projects and individuals, held 20 different live music events and published 187 new tunes.

The trust write: ‘The GDMT appreciate that many of our Scottish traditional musicians exist from gig to gig and all of their planned performances have been cancelled outwith their control so we thought we would offer to help a wee bit where we can.

‘We ask our self-employed, professional Scottish traditional musicians who have limited savings and require some financial assistance, at this time in our history, to consider applying for our GDMT 2020 PERFORMANCE AWARD. We are a small charity with limited funds so we have a ceiling on how much we can assist.  Successful applicants will receive an award of £250.

‘If you need this help, we ask you to fill in an application form then video a 5 minute performance of you playing exciting and cheery music, on your phone, including one of Gordon Duncan’s tunes, then email the form and video to us.

‘We need to keep the technical side fairly simple and files not too large so a video taken on your phone and sent to us using WeTransfer, Dropbox or another file transfer service is perfect. Then email your application form and video, using WeTransfer or your chosen service, to us at

‘All applications will be carefully considered by our GDMT Musical Sub-Group. If your application is successful the Trust will then post your video performance on our YouTube channel and showcase your performance on our website in the Gallery, to our many supporters.

In exchange you would share our GDMT links to your networks so your contacts get to know about the GDMT. This will result in increased musical exposure on social media for you and increased social media exposure for the Gordon Duncan Memorial Trust too.

‘To be eligible to apply you must be over 18 years of age and a self-employed, full-time professional musician who plays Scottish traditional music either in a solo capacity or in a group or band and you must be financially dependent on your musicianship. Students need not apply for this award.’

Get more information here.

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