Young musicians from Edinburgh and Lothians tune up for world's largest piping and drumming competition this weekend
Students from 30 schools in Edinburgh and the Lothians will be amongst the 800 young musicians will pitch their musical skills against each other as they compete in the world’s largest schools piping and drumming competition this Sunday.
The Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships (SSPBC) will see youngsters from 152 schools around Scotland take part in the event.
Musicians will compete in eight categories at the William McIlvanney campus in Kilmarnock, including a ‘debut’ category which will involve 10 bands making their first competitive appearance.
The competition was established by Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust (SSPDT) to not only showcase the talent of young musicians, but to encourage the formation of school pipe bands and to reignite the nation’s passion for the instrument.
Amongst those taking part are Edinburgh’s Royal High School, James Gillespie’s High School, Boroughmuir High School and Tynecastle High School.
Headteachers sing their pupils praises
Royal High’s headteacher, Pauline Walker said: “The Royal High Pipe band have been practising really hard in preparation for the Scottish pipe band championships this weekend. Our pupils are from across the school years and many are juggling their practice and revision for SQA assessments, a real testament to their dedication.
“The band are excited, ready and raring to go. Having sampled their outstanding piping and drumming through events across the year we know they are superb and we can't wait to hear how they get on.”
Donald MaDonald, headteacher at James Gillespies added: “After years of dedicated practice our Pipe Band is ready for this year's Scottish Schools’ Pipe Band championships in Kilmarnock. Pupils and staff are excited at the prospect of competing with Scotland’s finest and also renewing friendships that have developed over the years among fellow piping and drumming enthusiasts.”
David Dempster headteacher of Boroughmuir said: “We are absolutely delighted that Boroughmuir High School’s pipe band are competing in this weekend’s Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships in Kilmarnock.
“The band have been performing at school and community events throughout the season but the opportunity to compete against other Scottish School Bands is always a highlight of the year.
“The standard of competition is always incredibly high but as always we are confident that we can compete with the best in our category and that we might even pull off an award!”
Hazel Kinnear, headteacher of Tynecastle High School commented: ”Our Tynecastle Community Pipe Band are extremely excited to be talking part in the championships this weekend. The band have gone from strength to strength under the fantastic tuition of our Pipe Band Major, Clare Miller.
“They were delighted to take part in the championships for the first time last year and to come away with third in the newcomers category.
“The hard work that has gone into doing so well in such a short space of time has been incredible. Highlights for the band this year have included the Remembrance Service at Haymarket and the Tynecastle Nursery 90th birthday celebrations, as well as our own Burns Supper. We are all wishing them the very best for the championships this weekend.”
Tributes paid to Eilidh MacLeod
The SSPDT recognised that being part of a pipe band supports young people in developing crucial transferable skills for life, learning and work, but observed that opportunities to learn instruments in schools throughout the country was perhaps not widely accessible.
Alexandra Duncan, chief executive of SSPDT, said: “It is fantastic to see so many young, talented pupils representing their regions and schools at the Championships.
“We’re extremely grateful to the parents, schools and local authorities that are working closely with us to bring tuition opportunities to young people in Scotland, although there is still a long way to go until all pupils who would like to learn the pipes and drums have the chance to do so.”
The Championships feature eight categories including a Freestyle section which encourages musicians to team up with singers and dancers to create a performance which offers a novel twist on piping music with emphasis on innovation and fun.
SSPDT has also introduced the Eilidh MacLeod Endeavour Award to pay tribute to the young piper from Barra who died in the Manchester Arena attack in 2017.