Pupils in Edinburgh schools are being given the chance to take up the bagpipes under a new scheme that loans the instruments to them for free.
The Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust (SSPDT) have rolled out the project to help in a bid to boost the number of young people taking up Scotland’s national instrument.
The traditional woodwind instruments will be loaned out for up to three years at a time and sets are sourced from leading bagpipe makers after a tendering process. More than 160 sets, each worth around £700, are being played by pupils all over Scotland with 36 loaned out in to Edinburgh City Council schools including Tynecastle, Firrhill and Craiglockhart Primary.
The initiative will eventually have 500 sets of bagpipes available for loan at a cost of £350,000 to the SSPDT.
The trust is working with 18 of 32 Scottish council areas helping to support the teaching of more than 1500 pupils every week.
SSPDT chief executive Alexandra Duncan said: “We recognise that the big cost of of pipes is a barrier to people progressing with the instrument.
“The idea is to give our young players time to get to grips with the pipes and let them be certain of their ability before taking the plunge and buying their own.
“Piping and drumming are extremely popular with youngsters and too few are being offered the opportunity to take it up in schools. Pipe bands help young people to build resilience, teamwork, friendships and confidence and to achieve better outcomes when they finish secondary education.
“There has been a huge interest and we invite more tuition in schools in Edinburgh.””
Hazel Kinnear, head teacher at Tynecastle High said: “Without the support of SSPDT there would be no Tynecastle Pipe Band. Our young people are so grateful for this opportunity.
“Making pipes available ensures that every young person can be included whatever their circumstances. We know that being part of the Tynecastle Pipe Band has strengthened our links with our cluster primary schools as well as with our wider community.
“The link between performance and attainment is very strong and with the support of SSPDT and these pipes, young people in Tynecastle High School cluster are being given further opportunities to realise their potential.
“The Tynecastle Pipe Band are very much looking forward to performing for the community at the Heart of Midlothian FC Remembrance Event on November 11th where their new pipes will have their first public appearance.”
Councillor Ian Perry, Convener of the Education, Children and Families Committee, said: “This is a fantastic initiative which will give so many more children the opportunity to try out and learn to play Scotland’s national instrument. It’s clear that learning to play music is extremely beneficial to children growing up so I look forward to seeing the positive impact this scheme will have on pupils at Craiglockhart Primary and Tynecastle High.”