Editor’s Notebook: Young Champ Finlay/ Stress When Playing/ Scottish Schools Latest/ Pipers Memorial

Well done to Finlay Johnston and Gordon Bruce for the cycle ride in aid of cancer research in memory of Finlay’s dad Tommy. They raised just under £5,000 from the effort which started at the Piping Centre in Glasgow and ended at Oban’s Corran Halls.

The picture above is of Finlay, a champ in the making, from 20 years ago. He holds the juvenile trophies from the Scottish Pipers’ Association junior contest 2001.

Finlay has gone on to fulfil all his promise winning both Gold Medals and a host of other awards. Gordon is no slouch either. A double Silver Medallist, he continues to do important work teaching in schools. A great effort lads! If any reader would like to contribute you can still do so here.

Pipers Angus MacColl and Calum MacInnes welcome the cyclists to Oban

Thanks to everyone who has corresponded on the focal dystonia business this week. There’s more on this topic to follow. Meanwhile reader Brigid Flannery in Connecticut has been in touch about the anxiety of performing. It may be relevant to a lot of pipers getting ready for a return to competition.

Brigid writes: ‘The link below is for the podcast I mentioned about stage fright. It really resonated with me and gave me a lot of ideas on conquering the nerves!

‘It’s called ‘Hidden Brain’ and the blurb reads: ‘The pressure. The expectations. The anxiety. If there’s one thing that connects athletes gathering for the Olympic games with the rest of us, it’s the stress that can come from performing in front of others. In this week’s episode, we talk with cognitive scientist Sian Beilock about why so many of us crumble under pressure –– and what we can do about it.’

I’ve had a listen and it certainly offers some worthwhile advice. It talks of how when practising we should try to mimic the pressure of public performance and that practice and preparation can reduce stress, something we all knew already of course.

Before performance sing a song to yourself or do a crossword – anything to take your mind off the task at hand. Don’t over focus. With proper practice you will perform at your best. Don’t over analyse and don’t allow personal stereotypes to get to you. Worrying about getting that E doubling in will only make you less likely to do so. Listen here and thanks to Brigid for passing on.



Chief Executive Alex Duncan has been in touch about the latest work being done by the Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust.

Alex: ‘Things have been quieter than usual, as you can imagine, but there is a new piping and drumming programme set to start in the new school year after August, co-funded between SSPDT and John Paul Academy in Maryhill, Glasgow.

‘This will bring tuition to the high school and its feeder primary schools. We also have a new Piper in Residence in two primary schools in East Lothian.

Caleb Robson of Tynecastle High School receives a set of new pipes, loaned by the Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust. Craig Munro, director of Wallace Bagpipes, adjusts the drones. Craig’s firm are supporters of the Trust

‘We have 100 new concert chanters with drone extenders and reeds, in addition to the bagpipes that we lend, that can go to schools so that the pipes can be played and performed with other instruments … generally supporting the integration of the pipes into music making and making it easier for music teachers to welcome the pipes into groups and performances.

‘There are three more programmes that we are hoping will get underway in October, once aerosol producing instrumental teaching and group practice is back to normal in schools. 

‘We were sad to see Graham Drummond depart from the Kilmarnock schools programme for West Lothian schools, but delighted that Chris Armstrong has been appointed and we are interested to see how he will expand opportunities for young people there.’


Yves Holbecq, Treasurer of the Pipers Memorial Association and Pipe Major of the Somme Battlefield Pipe Band has written: ‘I’d like to inform your members and readers that we’ll organise a ceremony, parade and concert for the 20 years  of the Piper’s Memorial.

‘The date  is 16/07/2022. Would it be possible to inform about this in your website? Thanks for response and help, all the best.’ For info on how to register and take part, download and watch P/M Holbecq’s slideshow:


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