Category Archives: Comment

Highlands & Islands Draw/ Tickets for the Worlds

All solo piping interest will be on Oban this weekend for the Highlands & Islands Music and Dance Festival with very good entries in all events through P/A, B and C grades. The contest is held in Oban High School on Saturday April 29.

Senior adjudicators are Iain MacFadyen, Ronald MacShannon, Tom Speirs, Robert Wallace, John Wilson and Andrew Wright. There are five prizes in each event. All piobaireachd classes start at 9am with the MSRs in the afternoon. Here are the draws:

P/A Piob


Gordon McCready and Sarah Muir, recent champions at the Scottish Pipers’ Association contest, will do battle again at the Highlands & Islands

B Piob


C Piob






There is also a full selection of contests for juniors. Check PP on Saturday for all results.

Tickets for the Worlds are now on sale – at a discount if you buy now. Grade 1 arena on the Saturday is £28 plus transaction fee. Other prices (add minimum £1 transaction fee): Here is the blurb: ‘The World Pipe Band Championships are a unique celebration of Scottish culture featuring outstanding musicians who have practised for years to reach the pinnacle of Pipe Band competition. The event has been associated with Glasgow for nearly 70 years.

‘Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band from Northern Ireland are the World Pipe Band Champions for 2016. They fought off stiff competition from Inveraray and District who finished second and St Laurence O’Toole from the Republic of Ireland who were third. The 2016 event was the 30th year in a row Glasgow has hosted the World Pipe Band Championships.’

Get your tickets here.

Virginia Tattoo Participating Bands/ 2017 Silver Medal Tunes

This Saturday, April 29, 2017, the Virginia International Tattoo hosts the second annual Virginia International Tattoo American Pipe Band Championship on Scope Plaza in downtown Norfolk, Virginia. In the past the contest has featured Scottish Grade 1 bands Inveraray and Fife Police. This year UK representation comes from the Pipes and Drums of the 1st Battalion Scots Guards (pictured). Director of Piping for the contest is Andrew Carlisle of Field Marshal Montgomery.

The press release reads: The competition, which coincides with the Tattoo performance weekend, will feature a total of ten bands, three in Grade 2 and seven in Grade 3. Grade 2 bands entered: City of Dunedin (Dunedin, Florida), MacMillan Pipe Band (Washington, DC), Worcester Kiltie Pipe Band (Worcester, Massachusetts).

Grade 3 bands entered include: 1st Battalion Scots Guards Pipes and Drums (British Army, United Kingdom), Carnegie Mellon University Pipes and Drums (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), Fredericton Society of Saint Andrew Pipe Band (Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada), Silver Thistle Pipes and Drums (Austin, Texas), St. Thomas Episcopal School Pipe Band (Houston, Texas), Ulster Scottish Pipe Band (Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania), Wake & District Public Safety Pipes and Drums (Raleigh, North Carolina).

Bands will compete from 12 to 6pm on Scope Plaza, followed by a massed bands performance and presentation of awards. In case of inclement weather, the competition will be held inside Scope Arena. There is a March, Strathspey and Reel competition and a Medley Selection competition for both Grade Two and Grade Three.

The Grade Three MSR competition will commence at 12pm followed by the Grade Three Medley. For Grade Two, the Medley will be first, followed by the MSR as a request by the three pipe majors, as this is the format for the 2017 World Pipe Band Championships for bands that are fortunate enough to qualify for the final.

Cash prizes will be awarded to the aggregate winners in each grade:  Grade 2: 1st $2,500 (£2,000 approx.), 2nd $1,000 (£800), 3rd $500 (£380); Grade 3: 1st $2,000 (£1,500), 2nd $800 (£600), 3rd $400 (£300). The event will also include an Open Drum Fanfare Competition with a single $1,000 (£800) prize. Participating bands were also given travel stipends to help assist with the costs of travelling to Norfolk.

The spectacular Virginia Tattoo in Scope Arena, Norfolk

‘I am thrilled to see a contest like this happening within our borders,’ remarked Dan Cole, President of the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association. ‘We were blown away by the success of last year’s event,’ said J. Scott Jackson, the general manager of the Virginia Arts Festival and Producer/Director of the Virginia International Tattoo. ‘We had world-class bands and great support from enthusiastic spectators. Most importantly, the bands had a positive experience, starting off their competitive season against strong competition and playing for outstanding judges. For 2017, we again have a highly qualified panel of international adjudicators representing six world pipe band associations and spanning three continents.’

The Virginia International Tattoo runs from April 27-30 at Scope Arena. International pipe bands scheduled to perform include Australia’s Scotch College Adelaide Pipe Band, the Canadian Forces Base Trenton 8 Wing Pipes and Drums, New Zealand’s Christchurch City Pipe Band and the 1st Battalion Scots Guards.Tickets for the Virginia International Tattoo are still available at A video of the massed bands and awards from last year:

Entrance to the 2017 Virginia International Tattoo American Pipe Band Championship is free of charge to the public. Tickets for the Virginia International Tattoo are still available at

Budding Silver Medallists will be interested in a new post from the Piobaireachd Society concerning Donald MacLeod tunes set for this year’s Silver Medal and intimating that recordings from expert pipers Finlay Johnston (Cronin Padruig Seamus), William McCallum (Roderick MacDonald’s Salute), Angus MacColl (Lament for John Morrison of Assynt House) and Iain Speirs (Lament for the Iolaire) are now available on the Society website

Anyone who’s not yet a member of the Society should join now!

Lessons on the other tunes in the 2017 Silver Medal list are available from PP Editor Robert Wallace. These tunes are all taken from the Society’s most recent book, Book 16, but appear in other out of print source collections too. The tunes are Hail to My Country, Rev. Dr Norman McLeod’s Lament, the Sword’s Lament and Lord Berisdale’s Salute. All four have been recorded in full on the practice chanter and give guidance on how the tunes might be played. The student can play along with the recording and get an idea of how to link the phrases and variations. Use the drop down arrow to select your tune(s).

PP Ed’s Blog: Gourock Contest/ PP Audio Archive/ Argylls Book/ Bagpipe Muffler

Pleased to see such a healthy entry for the Grade 1 contest at Gourock on May 14 with Glasgow Police, Shotts, Inveraray and Scottish Power all to the fore.

There is a top down effect at these minor contests. If the big boys are there it gives the event the kudos it requires and brings in much needed revenue. Many of our smaller pipe band events have been struggling of late. I have always argued that the leading bands have what you might call ‘a duty of care’ for these contests. It is where many a youngster first get a taste for pipe bands and certainly takes the best music to the grassroots.

So well done to all participants (not just those in Grade 1) and to those Grade 2 bands playing up – great experience for them. Here are the G1 bands and the playing order and times courtesy the RSPBA.

Grade 1 MSR – Ring 1
01 15:35 Scottish Power Pipe Band
02 15:45 Inveraray and District
03 15:55 Lomond and Clyde
04 16:05 Shotts
05 16:15 Johnstone Pipe Band
06 16:25 Glasgow Skye Association
07 16:35 Glasgow Police (pictured top)

Top of the Pops, piper Chris Terry, South Africa

The PP Audio Archive continues to attract many listeners and it is interesting to see, from time to time, whose recordings are the most visited.

By far the most popular recording, and therefore our ‘top of the pops’, is South Africa’s Chris Terry playing the piobaireachd, the Glen is Mine. Chris has had 896 listens so far. Second place goes to John MacFadyen, with 633 people dipping in to his Too Long in the Condition.

Next comes a recital by the imperious Alasdair Gillies with 606. Thereafter we have Donald MacPherson with a recital which includes Salute on the Birth of Rory Mor MacLeod, then the writer with 540 for his MacDougall’s Gathering closely followed by Jimmy McIntosh with 534 for Lament for the Children.

Here’s the list:
Chris Terry, Glen is Mine 896
John MacFadyen, Too Long in this Condition 633
Alasdair Gillies recital, 606
Donald MacPherson recital, 589
Robert Wallace, MacDougall’s Gathering, 540
Jimmy McIntosh, Lament for the Children, 534
Andrew Pitkeathly, light music 480
Donald MacLeod light music, 476
Robert Reid light music, 449
John MacDougall, MSR, 443
Angus MacColl MSR, 442

Other recordings of note: Gordon McCready’s winning tune at the recent SPA Professional has had 87 listens so far and Dr John MacAskill’s  self-penned piobaireachd Rubh An Dunain 118. Good figures after only a couple of weeks on the stocks.

Any reader who has recordings – band or solo – he/she believes deserves a place in the archive please forward same to the usual address. All of these recordings are offered free of charge both by the artists themselves and by Piping Press. The cost of the archive is borne by our advertisers so a big thanks to them for advancing piping education in this way.

The new Argylls book

The new Argylls book is in the home straight and the editors will this week be heading to the regimental museum in Stirling Castle to complete the final picture selection. Proofing will begin next month and this eagerly awaited publication will be launched during Worlds Week in August.

The book will have tunes by such expert composers as John MacLellan, Dunoon, Willie Lawrie. There will also be contributions from the Director of Army Bagpipe Music, Gordon Rowan, and the current Sovereign’s Piper, Scott Methven.

Scott Methven, Sovereign’s Piper

Gaita players in Spain can now practice with impunity even if they live in the least soundproof flat. It’s all thanks to this ‘practice muffler’ which fits round the hands and chanter. Might get a bit hot in there but better that than no practice at all. Thanks to Breton piper Patrick Molard for bringing it to our attention. What do you think guys? Would it be worth someone developing this for the GHB? Have a look:

New Drumming Principal at Pipe Bands Australia 

Following the resignation of Greg Bassani, PBA has appointed Dean Hall Principal Drumming of Pipe Bands Australia’s Australian Pipe Band College by national management committee on the recommendation of branch vice-principals.

The PBA website reports: ‘Dean is currently vice-principal in New South Wales but did not participate in the recommendation and selection process. He was one of several applicants for the position reviewed by the other vice-principals who expressed pleasure with the very high calibre of qualified members who expressed a desire to serve in the position of principal.

‘He has a huge passion for snare drumming and equally a desire to see growth in Pipe Bands Australia for all forms of drumming in the movement.

‘The new principal has a background in online music education, workshop presentation and administration and has advised national management committee of a desire to develop online education platforms, regional workshop programs and advance the Australian Solo Drumming Championships.

‘Dean will lead the branch team of vice-principals and their panels. He will shortly relinquish the NSW position after almost eight years and arrange an orderly transition to a new appointment to be made by that branch. He has been lead drummer with bands in Australia, Britain, Ireland and Germany since beginning his playing career in 1980.

‘PBA president Chris Earl said the appointment of Dean had come with the recommendation of branch vice-principals.

Chris said: “We look forward to Dean’s enthusiastic approach to leadership of the drumming division of our college and welcome his aims to develop online education as a key area to lift engagement in the advancement of drumming standards in Australia and other countries where our syllabus is used.”’

More about Dean from his Drumming Mad website: ‘In 1994, Dean migrated to Dublin, Ireland and joined the St. Laurence O’Toole Pipe Band, under leading drummer John Keogh and Pipe Major Terry Tully. When ‘Johnny’ retired, Dean was invited to take over the SLOT corps. Dean ensured the continued presence at the World Championships in Scotland during a time of change for the band, helping grow the drum corps of two snares, one tenor and bass, to the competitive size of six snares, two tenors and bass.

‘St. Laurence O’Toole went on to merge with another local pipe band, St. Joseph Clondalkin. With this merger came top drummer Stephen Creighton, to which Dean handed the reins of lead to the more experienced Stephen. During his time with St. Laurence O’Toole, the corps went on to win the All Ireland National Best Drum Corps prize in 2 successive years and regularly beat some of the best drum corps in the world.

‘Since 2003, Dean turned his focus to teaching Pipe Band Snare Drumming all over Europe and competing with The Pipeband Club (based in Australia). In 2009, Dean relocated back out to Australia, this time to Sydney where he took on the role of Head of Drumming at The Scots College. Teaching up to 150 drummers a week, Dean’s role at The Scots College enabled him to achieve an even greater focus on the development of methods and techniques for teaching and encouraging young drummers…’

PP Ed’s Blog: Aussie Rules/ St Petersburg/ Chris Terry

Latest from Pipe Bands Australia: ‘The national council of Pipe Bands Australia has voted to endorse the decision of bands in the recent annual ballot of bands to include a separate Grade 4 selection of marches events in the contest regulations.

‘National management committee last year introduced a trial rule for the event to encourage bands to return to the competition arena, retain players of long-standing and assist in providing a stepping stone for less-experienced players on the journey to entering the circle in MSR-Medley competitions.

‘The trial was used with success by two branches in recent months. Tasmanian branch chairman Tony Coen reported: ‘At the recent Richmond contest, the SOM went off very well. It attracted all of the state’s bands (except the one that is not yet registered with PBA, but is being worked on) and one or two of those bands hadn’t been in competition mode for some time. St Andrews Caledonian Band entered a full range of players that consisted largely of first-timers and led by a piper who had no rank, but was proficient enough to guide the rest. That band didn’t win the contest, but its members did gain a lot from the experience.

‘Although each band was aware of the conditions etc. associated with the trial, there were a couple that didn’t completely enter in the spirit of the intention. The band that won the competition contained a number of high graded pipers, whereas others could have done the same, but didn’t. There was a grumble about that in the aftermath.

‘Whilst some bands might have the capacity to field enough players that haven’t had expertise on the contest arena, others don’t and therefore the latter doesn’t have a choice, except not to enter. I’m talking of keeping ‘in the spirit’ of the trial rule. Personally, I don’t think that it matters what the make-up of players is, nor does it matter about winning. The experience for first-timers is what counts.

‘Victorian branch chairman Tim McLeod reported: ‘There has been significant uptake of this contest element in the recent contest season. A number of bands have used this element to develop young players or enable older players to return to competition. A small number of bands who have been off the contest circuit for a number of years also took advantage of the opportunity to compete in 2017, and they have indicated they will again do so next year. The additional performances created some pressure on judges and timings were reviewed and adjusted as the season progressed to overcome this problem. The Executive is recommending to Victoria Branch Council that this element be offered at all contests in 2017-2018 Contest Season.’