Young Scots musicians are being urged to celebrate Scotland’s musical heritage by signing up to compete in the world’s largest schools piping event.
Organisers are hoping for a record number of entries when the Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships takes place in Kilmarnock next March – especially from those who have only recently started playing.
The competition features 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.
This year’s event in Livingston attracted around 800 players, including some as young as eight and a band from Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides who had to travel two days to get to the competition.
Alexandra Duncan, Chief Executive of The Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust (SSPDT), who organise the event, said they want to see entry numbers surpass the 65 bands that took part this year.
She said: “We want to encourage any individuals and schools to look at taking part next year – and to help make the Championships the biggest yet.
“One easy way to enter is for a small group to form a quartet which can often be the forerunning to the formation of a new pipe band.”
“Our Trust aims to protect the heritage of our national instrument but more importantly we aim to help improve outcomes for school pupils which will hopefully changes lots of young people’s lives for the better.”
The SSPDT was created after its founders recognised that pipe bands – once thriving and at the heart of local communities – were struggling to find new members, yet pipes and drums were not taught in most schools.
Since then, the Trust has helped 47 new schools pipe bands to form building on tuition in 265 schools, as well as supporting existing youth and school pipe bands with grants and the free loan of bagpipes.
Alex added that the Trust is currently supporting new projects in 22 local authority areas.
She said: “A significant number of bands and quartets who were competing for the first time in this year’s Championships are the products of these projects and a visible demonstration of the success the Trust is having in offering tuition in our national instruments at schools were previously there was none.
“It is still, sadly, a fact that the vast majority of state school pupils in Scotland do not have this opportunity to learn piping and drumming and we are grateful to the parents, schools and local authorities that are working with us to overcome this disadvantage.”
More information and details on how to enter the Championships are available on https://thechampionships.org.uk/