Editor’s Notebook: Dress & Deportment/ Worlds Drumming/ Iain Murdo/ Clan Currie/ Evan MacRae

The committee of the Nicol-Brown amateur competition in the US deserve credit for instituting and maintaining a dress and deportment prize in their annual event. Looking at the photographs of the youngsters competing (above) is so much more pleasurable than had they been parading in shorts and t-shirts. The D/D winner, Kevin Darmadi, is top centre.

The pipers are learning early on that the instrument and its music is deserving of respect. I will say once again: piping is ridiculed far too often for us to allow it to become a ‘dressing-down’ occasion. Look at the old photographs of past champions we all enjoy perusing. Don’t tell me these men did not have the highest regard for their music tradition, that the visual does not matter and that it is the music that counts.

I quote from a well-known mainstream music website: ‘The clothes you wear during a performance tell other people about who you are, how important the performance is to you, and how you feel about your talent.



‘Sloppiness conveys the impression that you couldn’t care less about making a good impression, that you either don’t care about what other people think, or that you think you’re too important to take your time dressing for a performance. Both will insult the very people who you want to make a favourable impression on.

  • Follow Dress Code Guidelines …. you should make every effort to conform to the rules because it shows that you respect the association and the people in charge.
  • Neatness Pays …. shirts tucked in, all of your clothes clean and wrinkle-free and stain-free, and properly groomed hair all indicate that you are taking the performance seriously.
  • Dress Up Rather than Down …. you will always make a better impression by choosing performance attire that looks the part. By choosing dressier items, you tell others that your appearance is important. This type of attitude has been proven to help you be successful.

Dressing appropriately more than just affects the impressions other people have about you; it actually plays a key role in your own confidence, be the performance online or in front of a live audience.


Correspondent Alistair Aitken writes: ‘I noticed that when you posted the article about the 1979 Worlds at Nottingham two people commented that Fintan Lalor was the first overseas band to win the Worlds drumming. 

‘I suppose that is technically correct as Fintan Lalor from the Republic of Ireland won the drumming under Paddy Donovan in 1939 when the World Championships were held at Cowal Games. I should have made it clear that Triumph Street was the first overseas band to win the drumming at an RSPBA World Championships (i.e. after 1947).’

The Grade 1 results at the Nottingham Worlds were:
1st           Strathclyde Police
2nd          Dysart & Dundonald
3rd           Lothian & Borders Police
4th           Shotts & Dykehead
5th           Triumph Street (Canada)
6th           City of Victoria (Canada).


Reader Jim Thomson writes: ‘Do you know where I would find a copy of the music for Colin Campbell’s, The Boys from Cumbrae, written some time in 2000s. Do not know exactly when. With thanks’. Can anyone help Jim?


I am pleased to report that Iain Murdo Morrison is back home on Lewis after a bout of illness which necessitated a stay at hospital in Glasgow. Iain is resting and responding well to his medication. I am sure everyone will want to pass on their regards to this great piper. Iain’s brainchild, the Donald MacLeod Memorial, competition takes place at the Piping Centre on November 27 and will be available via livestream.

P/M Iain Morrison

Still with wee Donald, Robert Currie of the Clan Currie, writes: ‘Dear Mr. Wallace, I was delighted to discover Donald MacLeod’s MacMhuirich’s Salute, first published in 1977 in ‘With Sword and Harp.’ The WWII officer referenced in the notes is Co. William McMurdo Currie. Though not a true Highland Chief in the eyes of the Lord Lyon, he was lovingly viewed as the Head of the Clan by many Curries across the Western Highlands and Islands of Scotland.

‘Before he passed in 1992, he gave me the honorary title of Commander of the Clan Currie. Fast forward to 2017 and after great encouragement by the Rt. Hon. Dr. Joseph Morrow, the Curries held a convention in Glasgow to officially nominate and present to Lyon their choice as Commander of the Name and Arms of Currie.

‘The Clan Currie Society is a not-for-profit arts charity which is very active in Scottish history and heritage.’


Argyllshire Gathering Results of the Gold & Silver Medals 1982

1 Evan MacRae, Fort William, Flame of Wrath for Squinting Patrick
2 Ronald MacShannon, Glasgow, Battle of the Pass of Crieff
3 Chris Terry, South Africa, Lord Lovat’s Lament
4 Wilson Brown, Inverness, Lament for John Garve MacLeod of Raasay
Judges: J Burgess, Dr R Frater, P/M R MacCallum; 18 entered; eight tunes asked for.

1982 Oban Gold Medallist P/M Evan MacRae

Silver Medal
1 James Stack, New Jersey
2 Mike Cusack, Houston, Texas
3 Sgt. Iain Macey, Royal Tank Regiment
4 Leslie Watson, Annan
5 Eddie Clark, Pitlochry
Judges: A Pitkeathly, S MacNeill; 37 entered.

I remember hearing Evan’s tune in the Corran Halls. He was last on and this was to be his final year of competing. Half way through we, his fellow competitors, all started rooting for him. He was such a nice man and had done so much for piping in the Army and latterly in establishing an excellent teaching programme in the schools in Fort William and the rest of Lochaber. This would be the crowning glory of his career. He mustn’t falter now when the biggest prize of all was within his grasp. Nor did he.


6 thoughts on “Editor’s Notebook: Dress & Deportment/ Worlds Drumming/ Iain Murdo/ Clan Currie/ Evan MacRae

  1. I was surprised and a bit disappointed last year to see a young solo drummer allowed to wear a baseball cap during a competition, but the judge was wearing one too!

  2. Robert, Thanks very much for the article and for the recognition given to the Nicol-Brown committee for the Dress & Deportment prize. The credit all goes to Donald Lindsay, who founded the contest and created the prize. Some of this year’s competitors might smile at being called “youngsters.” There is no age qualification in Amateur Grade 1 events in North America, so we have had a wide range of ages from year to year. This year’s competitors did go to extra trouble to wear Highland dress for their competition videos, and I agree with you that they showed great respect for the contest and for the music. The photos above are not taken from the videos, but were chosen by the competitors for their bios for the Nicol-Brown program. If readers would like to see the competition videos, there are YouTube links posted for the prize-winning performances (and a link to see the program) at http://nicol-brown.org/2020results.html

  3. Highland dress and how we are presented when playing in public is important, but things do change. I recall the man we knew as wee Donald MacLean, of Donald MacLean’s Farewell to Oban speaking of the subject. I had only a passing acquaintance with him when he resided in Beauly before then living in Inverness. At that time he was still making a few reeds and he engaged me to obtain Thermowax, for treating the hemp for reeds. However in conversation with him he spoke of the subject of attire. He was a piper of significance during the 1930 s and at that time it was normal for pipers to be wearing quite formal dress apart from what would be worn as pipe band uniform. It was common for hair sporrans, doublets and fly plaids and of course head-dress. However Donald indicated that some of his peers, such as Peter MacLeod Jnr might have been a touch rebelious and on seeing the landed gentry wearing what was described as day dress, comprising tweed jackets, Lovat hose and brogues etc, much as what we are used to nowadays, the rebelious young pioers started to dress as the landed gentry owners did. Although Donald did not name them, some of those landed gentry types expressed their disagreeance and surprise at this departure by the few rebelious pipers whose sartorial ideas ‘was above their station.’
    To be fair some of those landed gentry sorts were unsung sponsors of piping competitions, such as maybe The Northern Meeting etc.
    Undoubtedly the way performers including pipers dress for public performances has importance and there is quite a range of possibilities in dress, including tartan trews etc.

  4. Having spent many of my earlier years competing in full military highland dress, I recall the sense of atmosphere this created amongst bandsmen – heightening the excitement and providing a tremendous sense of pride in what we were about. I was always taught that for whatever performance on the pipes, head wear was an absolute necessity at the very least. I would like to see more prizes awarded for ‘dress & deportment’ at all band and solo competition performances.

  5. Proper dressing is a respect to the overall culture of the nation, the musical instrument and the piece of music.
    I absolutely agree with a demand of wearing the correct dress in front of the judges and audience. It is a respect to them.

  6. Rob – I cannot agree more with your comments on dress and deportment. And a shine on the silver every time please.

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