Editor’s Notes: Season ’21/ Finlay’s Job/ Artist’s Thanks/ Paddy’s Worlds/ MacBeth Soundtrack

Shotts at the 2019 British. Will there be a return in May 2021?

Who would disagree with yesterday’s comments by Gilbert Cromie that we need some forward planning if we are to save the 2021 pipe band season? I would go further and ask that the RSPBA form a ‘Task Force 21’ to examine all of the potentail problems, to offer solutions and to do so from a positive, ‘can do’ attitude.

There is huge professional expertise within the movement and these men and women could be invited to take part along with branch officials and and directors.

It is simply not enough to wait for the Scottish Government to tell us what we can and cannot do. They do not understand the bagpipe nor know anything about running a pipe band contest.



But the contest is the easy bit: outside, social distancing, concert formation, and crowd separation may, eight months from now, be seen as overkill but still necessary. So be it. The show must go on.

The real problem is in practising. Bands in halls over the winter, as Gilbert says, face possibly insurmountable difficulties in the short term. Solutions? Chanter and stick internet get togethers. Mini band practices, players rotating. Once the season starts play at all the minor contest to get rid of ring rust. Push the weather envelope. Get outside early spring even when it may be a little cold, a covered enclosure a bonus. Take those parade jobs previously shunned.

Further hibernation is not an option. ‘Task Force 21’ needs to give everyone a route map out of this mess and then sell it to the politicians. If there are votes in it they’ll listen.


P/M Gordon Bruce: I am wondering if you would be willing to share the following advert on behalf of the school?  This post is currently filled by Finlay Johnston, who will be moving on as soon as we have a replacement. The advert:   

St Columba’s School, Kilmacolm, invites applications from enthusiastic and committed teachers of bagpipes to work as the second piping instructor with the school’s highly popular Piping and Drumming Programme. Applicants will require a minimum qualification of a diploma in a recognised music course or an equivalent piping qualification.  The successful candidate will work closely with the Head of Piping and Drumming, teaching one day per week on a self-employed basis in the Junior School and assisting with pipe band rehearsals and events.

Those interested in further information about the post should contact the Head of Piping and Drumming Programme, Mr Gordon Bruce, at GBruce@st-columbas.org. Letters of application and CVs with the names and email addresses of two referees should be submitted to recruitment@st-columbas.org  by 4pm Monday, 7th September 2020. Interviews will be held on Friday 11th September.


Winning artists in our Lockdown Challenge respond: ‘Thank you very much for this exciting news! I am very grateful to Mr Mathieson and Piping Press for hosting this contest. It was a much welcome diversion from the times that we are living and incentive for me to get back to my easel! One other thing…my brother Joe and I attended the CNE in Toronto in ’77 where we were fortunate to hear the Muirheads band and many other top bands compete. It is still one of the highlights of my piping experience. All the best, Brian McKee’ Brian placed third.

‘Thank you so much for the generous prize. I was absolutely delighted to hear the news and how good were Rab’s videos? I would just like to thank Piping Press once again for hosting this competition; the standard of some of the entries was exceptional and I think a very worthy winner took the top spot. I’m set on a path now and I have re-discovered my love of painting so including my entries I have completed 21 paintings during lockdown.
David Bruce.’ David placed second and was the readers’ favourite.


Reminding us all of what we’ve been missing this summer…. reader Patrick Byrne from Dublin has sent this nice picture from last year’s Worlds after he congratulated P/M Stuart Liddell of Inveraray and District:

Patrick writes: ‘Sitting here in Dublin, reminiscing this day last year. Kindest regards.’ 


Piper Neil Clark asked about the tune I play at the start of this Whistlebinkies piece. It is not a piobaireachd Neil but I suppose is in that style. It’s from Eddie McGuire’s sound track for a radio production of Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’.

Eddie wrote: ‘This is a suite from the music I composed for the BBC Radio Scotland production of Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ broadcast in 1981. It was recorded for this album (‘Whistlebinkies 3′) on Claddagh Records later that year. There is a score of the music at the Scottish Music Centre library in Glasgow.’

Nearly 40 years ago; goodness me. Check the hair.


4 thoughts on “Editor’s Notes: Season ’21/ Finlay’s Job/ Artist’s Thanks/ Paddy’s Worlds/ MacBeth Soundtrack

  1. Lots of discussion round changing band practices and the format of competitions to make them viable, but I’ve not heard a word about overcoming the single biggest health risk in the 2021 competition season.
    The Band Bus – logistically and economically essential for most bands, but ticking every box going for unacceptably high-risk environments. Large numbers of people crammed together in a confined space for lengthy periods, usually with the added bonus of wet kit to raise the humidity.
    Current venues couldn’t cope with fleets of cars, even if bands could organise them, and few bands could afford to hire two or more busses. Numbers and crowding could be reduced if travel was confined to band members only, but it’s the family and friends coming along for the day who subsidise bus hire costs.
    It would be a pity if the RSPBA put effort into working out solutions to address the start and finish of the process, only to find the bit in the middle coming back to bite them.
    I’m sure there are ways round this – shift to venues with more parking, subsidise travel expenses for bands etc etc – but solutions will need to be considered as part of an overall plan and not an afterthought.

  2. I fully support your idea for an ad hoc task force to identify the way forward for pipe bands. We must do everything humanly possible to retain a 2021 pipe band season, albeit with some practical modifications. If we wait for the Scottish Government…. we could be waiting a very long time!

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