Category Archives: Tuition

Another Successful Week in New England

The Editor writes: Another successful New England Pipe and Drum Academy has come to a close and I’d like to thank Tommy Johnston and Matt Pantaleoni for all their hard work during a rewarding week.

We didn’t have too many students to teach but those who did attended got the very best in piping and drumming instruction. Tommy’s reed making workshop was a real highlight and attracted a few outside visitors to the very pleasant surroundings of the Adelynrood Retreat and Conference Centre.

Tommy shows how it is done

It is run Episcopalian ladies and they know how to keep the likes of ourselves in order. They also feed us with the very best produce, some of it grown in their gardens at the centre situated in the Massachusetts woodlands north and east of Boston. We’ll be back next year, the object being to create a critical mass of well taught individuals who can go out and spread the word.

There are good teachers in New England make no mistake, but NEPADA provides the sort of immersion in piping and drumming which offers the unique benefits of joint music and making and learning. There is as much learned informally as there is formally.

Pipers are put through their paces

One of the lady pipers on the course Beverly Knapp is following in the footsteps of her grandfather in playing the pipes. Beverly has a snap of him in his uniform. His surname was Tyrie and he was from Forfar. Beverly is intrigued as to what British Army regiment it might represent. We think from the kilt and sporran that it is the Cameronians but this doesn’t chime with the Angus region. Any thoughts appreciated:

Our most promising piper was Jesse Fulton from Connecticut and drummer Patricia Edwards from New Hampshire. Jesse and Patricia are pictured below. Patricia received a set of drumsticks  and Jesse a practice chanter courtesy David Naill & Co.:

Patricia and Jesse

The dates for next year’s Academy are June 18 – 22.


Best wishes to Eric Ward wishing him a speedy recovery from his operation and also to Mike Nugent of the South Florida Pipe and Drum Academy after his recent bout of ill health.

Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust Summer School

Lee Moore writes: SSPDT are holding a five-day piping and drumming workshop from Mon 24 – Fri 28 July 10 am – 3pm each day. The summer school is open to all young pipers/chanter players, snare drummers and bass and tenor drummers in East Lothian, writes Lee Moore. 

The venue is Port Seton Community Centre. Please note the change of venue which offers us great facilities to run our school. The cost of the summer school is £75 for the week. Tutors for the workshop will be the Preston Lodge team of tutors, Lee Moore and Eilidh Alexander (Pipes), Simon Grant (Snare Drum) and Jordan Bailie (Tenor and Bass Drums)

SSPDT will consider helping those in financial need and applications for help will be treated in the strictest of confidence. Please contact Jenny Charalambous on jenny@sspdt.org.uk to enquire about financial help. There will be a short performance on the Friday at 4pm for friends and family when the pupils will be able to show off their skills.

Refreshments will be provided for break times and pupils should bring a packed lunch. Please return both the booking slip and permissions slip with a deposit of £15, cheques made payable to Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust to:

The Administrator, SSPDT, 14 Albany Street, Edinburgh, EH1 3QB Early booking is advised as places are limited. Closing date – 17 July 2017. The Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust and/or SSPDT names are the commonly used names for The Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Charitable Trust. This is a charitable trust registered in Scotland (No. SC037980).
Lee Moore is on T: 07720261306; E: lee.moore@sspdt.org.uk

Download the Booking Form: SSPDT Summer School Booking Form


Balmoral School of Piping and Drumming’s 2017 Summer Music Sessions

The organisers of this programme have sent this: This summer, 2017, the Balmoral School will run an intensive summer program for pipers and drummers of all ages, in Indiana and Pennsylvania. Both beginners and accomplished musicians will immerse themselves in weeklong music sessions with some of the best pipers and pipe band drummers in the world.

June 29-July 2: University of Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN
Piping Instructors: Jimmy Bell, Nick Hudson – Drumming Instructor: Gordon Bell

July 9-14: Shady Side Academy, Fox Chapel, PA (5 minutes north of Pittsburgh). Piping Instructors: Robert Mathieson, Terry Tully – Drumming Instructor: Gordon Bell

July 16-21, East Stroudsburg University, East Stroudsburg, PA. Piping Instructors: Duncan Bell, Robert Mathieson – Drumming Instructor: Gordon Bell

Nick Hudson: Winner of numerous prizes in Scotland, including 1st Gold Medal for Piobaireachd at Braemar. BA Performing Arts in Bagpipe Music from Carnegie-Mellon.

Jimmy Bell: Professional grade piper, EUSPBA, SUSPBA judges panels, director and principal instructor of the Scottish Heritage Program, PM of Lyon College Pipe Band.

Terry Tully: Pipe Major (fmr.) of 2010 World Champion St. Laurence O’Toole Pipe



Band, based in Dublin, Ireland. Accomplished solo piper, composer and author.

Rob Mathieson: Led Shotts & Dykehead to over 30 major Grade One championships; five wins of the World Pipe Band Championships. Published 3 books of his compositions.

Duncan Bell: Professional grade piper; Judges panel EUSPBA; PS for Parlin and District. Founder of “51 Ash” Celtic Rock band. (PA-ESU)

Gordon Bell: EUSPBA Overall Champion 1979-1987, over 30 years experience instructing, veteran of many top Grade One Pipe Bands (IN, PA-Pgh, PA-ESU)

Also instructing will be Richmond Johnston and Balmoral director and founder, George Balderose, pipers with a combined experience of playing and teaching for over 60 years

Students, both individuals and pipe bands, will receive instruction on the Great Highland pipes, smallpipes, snare, tenor drum and bass drum, in small classes of five or less, while making friendships that last a lifetime. Free instructors’ concerts on Thursday evenings.


Gairloch Iain Dall Young Pipers Festival 2017

The Iain Dall Young Pipers Festival will take place in Gairloch High School on Saturday 23th September. The purpose is to encourage Under 18 pipers, from  primary school upwards, to participate in friendly and relaxed competitions.

The Festival commemorates Iain ‘Dall’ MacAoidh (1656-1754) piper to Mackenzie of Gairloch, blind from the age of seven as the result of smallpox, the legendary ‘Blind Piper’. A pupil of the great MacCrimmon of Skye, he composed some of the finest piobaireachd ever, of which about a dozen are still extant and exercise our very best pipers today. These tunes include the classic Unjust Incarceration and the Blind Piper’s Obstinacy. The picture above is of a chanter reputedly played by Iain Dall MacKay himself.

Iain Dall  was also a fine poet, and  his grandson, Uilleam Ros, the great Gaelic poet who died tragically young, is remembered particularly for his poem Moladh Gheàrrloch (In Praise of Gairloch).

Junior winners at the Iain Dall contest in 2015

There are eight Classes in the Gairloch competition; 1st, 2nd and 3rd, prizes are offered for Classes 1-7

Competition 1: Primary pupils March on practice chanter

Competition 2: Secondary pupils March on practice chanter

Competition 3: Novice march on pipes – pupils playing for less than a year (Flowerdale Trophy donated John Mackenzie of Gairloch.)

Competition 4: U15 Piobaireachd (Iain Dall Chanter donated the Clan Mackenzie Society of Scotland & the UK)

Competition 5: U15 March, Strathspey and Reel

The Iain Dall Memorial at Gairloch

Competition 6: U18   Piobaireachd (Iain Dall Quaich donated by North Highland Connections)

Competition 7: U18 March Strathspey and Reel

Competition 8: U18 Ishbel MacAskill Memorial Prize for an Original Composition for Pipes or Fiddle £100

Entries £3 by 1st September 2017

Entry forms and s.a.e to Acting Convenor, Blair Cottage, Aultgrishan, Melvaig, Gairloch IV21 2DZ or email mackenzie@iambik.org ; further information: 01455 771228


Atholl Gathering Results

The Atholl Gathering took place today in the grounds of Blair Castle, Blair Atholl, Perthshire, writes the Editor. Weather was dry and pleasant – ideal for piping and it drew a large and appreciative crowd to the first major games contest of the summer.

The Champion Piper was Angus D. MacColl and how pleasing for the organisers to have this master piper supporting their contest. Angus is pictured above shortly after the Champion Piper announcement was made.

Angus placed second in Open Piob and first in MSR and H&J.  Winner of the Open Piobaireachd was David Wilton. What a great eight days for David, his band Lomond & Clyde having taken the Grade 2 title at last week’s British Pipe Band Championships at Paisley.

In all fifty adult and 12 junior pipers played. Novice pipers from the Army School of Piping, all full-time soldiers, kindly provided the stewarding. They did a terrific job.
Three tunes of each were asked for in the Piobaireachd and in the Ceol Beag heats. The MSR final required three tunes of each and the H&J final was own choice.
The Atholl Highlanders Pipe Band under P/M Ian Duncan, led the Highlanders from the Castle to the games field at 1.15pm. This was followed by a minute’s silence in respect for the victims of the Manchester bombing atrocity who sadly included young Barra piper Eilidh MacLeod.
Results:
P/A/Open Piobaireachd:
1 David Wilton, The Piper’s Warning
2 Angus D MacColl, Red Speckled Bull
3 Craig Sutherland, Nameless Dro o Dro
4 Innes Smith
5 Jonathan Greenlees
Judges: R Barnes, C MacLellan
B Piobaireachd
1 Charles MacDonald, Lament for Captain MacDougall
2 Calum Wynd, MacDougall’s Gathering
3 John McDonald, Too Long in this Condition
4 Cameron MacDougall, Lament for the Duke of Hamilton
5 Eddie Gaul, Lady Margaret MacDonald’s Salute
Judges: S Shedden, R Wallace



C Piobaireachd
1 Calum Ian Brown, Earl of Seaforth’s Salute
2 Eireann Ianetta MacKay, Lament for Viscount Dundee
3 John Cameron, Too Long in this Condition
4 Dan Nevans, Isobel MacKay
5 William Waites, Lament for Donald of Laggan
Judges: A Maclean, S Samson
MSR Final
1 Angus D MacColl
2 Craig Sutherland
3 David Wilton
4 Graham Drummond
5 Ben Duncan/ Steven Leask
Judges: I McLellan, T Speirs

Calum Ian Brown, Charles MacDonald and David Wilton, the three piobaireachd winners at today’s Atholl Gathering

H&J Final
1 Angus D MacColl
2 Steven Leask
3 Graham Mulholland
4 Craig Sutherland
5 David Wilton
Judges: A Frater, P GrantJunior Piob
1 Andrew Ferguson
2 Luke Kennedy
3 Finlay Cameron
4 John McLaren

Junior MSR
1 Brodie Watson-Massey
2 Luke Kennedy
3 Andrew Ferguson
4 Douglas Mair

Junior Jig
1 Andrew Ferguson
2 Brodie Watson-Massey
3 Douglas Mair
4 Luke Kennedy

All junior events were own choice and were judged by E Anderson and A Forbes.

• Following the rest of the games season? Check out our Guide to the Games here.


More Memories of Donald Mackinnon, Skye & Queensland

Reader Catherine Herzig has kindly shared her recollections of life and times with war hero and piper Donald Mackinnon. This is  a warm, personal memoir which gives a real feel for the man’s humanity and dedication to his music. We are grateful to Cath for sharing it with us. The picture above is of Donald in KOSB rig piping during the Korean War.

I was 12 when I had to take a year off Highland dancing due to knee issues and decided to learn the pipes while I waited for the knees to heal. Mum took me to Donald when he was living in Wavell Heights, a suburb of Brisbane. I learnt from Donald between the ages of 12 – 15. What an immense privilege. He had an enormous impact on my view of life. I had lessons with him each Saturday morning at his house and I remember having a group lesson as well in the hall at Wavell Heights High School.

Poor Donald used to lament our combined inabilities when it came to learning canntaireachd and also our laziness when it came to practice. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the other students very well. I do remember that we enjoyed ourselves learning as a group but my favourite times were always when I had my private lessons.

Donald always played along as I learnt the tunes and that was how I think he taught me musicality. I also had mum who was a fantastic violinist and she would help me at home when I practiced, talking about the value of each note, and between them both they passed on that piping, or any music for that matter, was about singing from the heart.  And Donald would always sing.

He’d sing and we’d laugh. His wife Ina was wonderful and she and mum would sit and listen as we played. I do remember being introduced to Lewis Turrell from New Zealand who was a lovey bloke and he used to have lessons with Donald as well. [Iain Bruce, who gave us the initial story on Donald, tells us that there are six of Donald’s tunes in the Lewis Turrell Collection of Bagpipe Music. Get the book here for only $15CAD.]

One funny memory I have was when Donald was taking me to the Callies Club. His mate arrived and he and Donald had one for the road before we set out – a rather large Vegemite jar of a light brown liquid! Those were the days.

In WW2, he started in Spitfires then got transferred to Mustangs.  I think that must have been when US joined the war and provided Britain with the planes because, from memory, Mustangs were American.

The Mustangs had a big air scoop underneath. Following one operation the rest of his squadron had come in but Donald was late.  From the barracks, Ina saw his plane coming in.  The scoop had been shot up badly and was actually facing sideways as he landed.  She remembered seeing a plane coming in to land at the airfield near the barracks where they once lived, smoke billowing everywhere and she said to herself, ‘That’ll be Donald’ – and it was.