More than a reeling – trad bagpipers freestyle jam contest


YOUNG bagpipe players are being encouraged to break Scottish stereotypes and rock out at a leading competitive event.


For the first time ever, the Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships (SSPBC) will feature a ‘freestyle’ category.




The event will see musicians perform tunes under the theme ‘anything goes’, with competitors allowed to play anything from Scottish traditional melodies to Black Sabbath.


Kids will be encouraged to let their imagination run wild, and are even allowed to bring in their pals to play in a “mash up” of different musical instruments instead of just sticking to the bagpipes.


The event will be held in March next year, and entries are already flooding in. Students will be following in the anarchic footsteps of top Scottish acts like Treacherous Orchestra, which mixes dance beats and electric guitars with the bagpipes.


David Johnston, Chairman of the SSPBC committee, said the Freestyle competition is unique in the world.


He said: “The Freestyle category is all about the traditional pipes and drums – but with a twist.


“We decided to introduce this category as a way of highlighting the versatility of the pipes and drums alongside other instruments.


“It offers a chance for pipers and drummers to let loose from the rigid competition format to perform some more modern pieces in a relaxed atmosphere.”


There are just three slots left for schools in the Freestyle category, who will face a judging panel consisting of some of Scotland’s most senior Pipe Majors, as well as Craig Munro from Scottish piping favourites The Red Hot Chilli Pipers.


Mr Johnston said: “This category is all about injecting some fun into the competition and showcasing the outstanding musical talent of our younger generation, regardless of what instrument they play.

“It means that schools can look to use their whole orchestras and young musicians to compete.”




The Scottish Pipe Band Championships will  take place on March 8 at Broughton High School and Fettes College in Edinburgh.


The deadline for entries closes on 26 January and the committee is keen to encourage more schools to sign up.