Girl power marches in to the “male” world of bagpiping


THE male-dominated world of piping is being challenged by a school band which is 80% female.

Four out of every five pipers in the band are girls
Four out of every five pipers in the band are girls


Preston Lodge High School in Prestonpans, East Lothian, has 31 members 24 of whom are girls.

According to their instructor, girls are now taking the majority of places because they are so determined to “master” their instrument.

Preston Lodge is taking part in the first Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships tomorrow (Sunday).

More than 400 youngsters from 40 schools will take part at the event in Edinburgh.

Lee Moore, bagpipe instructor at Preston Lodge, insisted female pipers earned their places in the band on merit alone.

He said: “Piping is often seen as a male dominated pursuit and that is certainly no longer the case.

“It really surprises people when they learn that almost 80% of our band members are girls.

“But in my experience this is simply down to the fact that they are more determined to master an instrument at an earlier age compared to boys.

“It tends to be older boys who see a tangible goal and are interested in competition and playing to an audience.”

Pipe Major Clare Boothman is one of the girls breaking into a traditionally male-dominated world
Pipe Major Clare Boothman is one of the girls breaking in to a traditionally male-dominated world


He added: “Here the girls have seized the opportunity and shown great dedication.

“Hopefully this growing trend will influence other females – it would be fantastic to see this being repeated at more and more state schools.”

Some of the female students have progressed so quickly they have gone on to perform in grade one bands – the highest level of performance for bagpipers.

Gavin Clark, headteacher of Preston Lodge, said: “I am delighted to see the passion for the pipe band grown strength to strength.

“It’s fantastic to see so many female students take part in the tradition.”

David Johnston, chairman of the committee behind the competition, agreed there had been “much greater interest among girls in the past few years”.

He added: “This is great news all round although no-one to date has an accurate picture of the numbers.

“So during the competition we will be taking a detailed head count of exactly how many girls are involved.”