Band membership is no longer a pipe dream for girls

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that they are more determined to master an instrument compared to the boys.

“The girls are definitely more interested in playing at an earlier age. Piping is often seen as a male dominated pursuit and that is certainly no longer the case. Here at Preston Lodge the girls have seized the opportunity and shown great dedication to representing the school. Hopefully this growing trend will influence other females to start playing in pipe bands and keep the tradition going strong all across Scotland. It would be fantastic to see this being repeated at more and more state schools.”

The Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships, now in its second year – with the motto “Every School Needs a Pipe Band” – was held this year at Broughton High with organisers working hard to promote piping and drumming, particularly in the state school sector where it is still relatively unusual.

David Johnston, from East Lothian, is chairman of the committee behind the competition: “Independent schools have a thriving tradition of producing excellent pipe bands and they have also seen a much greater interest among girls in the past few years.”

Keen for not only more piping in schools, but also among girls and women, celebrity bagpiper Louise Marshall, 44, started learning the bagpipes when she was just nine, following in the footsteps of her late father, William Marshall – who was the official piper at Gretna Green for more than 40 years.

Pictured overleaf, she can boast the likes of The Queen, Sir Chris Hoy and the Pope as people she has played for – to name but a few. Louise has also given Britain’s Got Talent star Susan Boyle a lesson recently, ahead of the celebrity’s role as Chieftain of the British Pipe Band Championships, on May 31 in Bathgate.

However, despite an early enthusiasm for the pipes, Ms Marshall studied business and German at university, then had two children (Rory, 15, and Iona 12), before piping professionally. Her son, a drummer with Stockbridge Pipe Band will play at this month’s championships.

“I absolutely love what I do,” she says. “I have been given so many opportunities and it’s lovely to teach young people as well as adults, especially when it’s something you enjoy – it has opened so many doors for me.

“I think there should be more tuition in schools available so piping can be available to all pupils because at the moment it’s not.

“There’s a big push for that at the moment – every pupil should be given the opportunity to learn them.”

n British Pipe Band Championships 2014, Saturday May 31, Burgh Muir, Bathgate