Pupils in pipe bands are smarter, says expert


SCHOOL pupils who play in a pipe band are more likely to have better grades, an expert has claimed.

David Johnston, chairman of the Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championship (SSPBC), said youngsters involved in the traditional music are more confident and have a better “academic performance”.

He also suggested it can make children neater and more punctual. 

Children usually learn the bag pipes or drumming techniques through community groups such as the Boys Brigade.

But there are now calls for schools to start up their own bagpipe and drumming sections in the hope it will give children a better start in life.

Mr Johnston made the comments ahead of the first ever Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships event.

He said: “We’re getting feedback from schools that setting up a pipe band can play a critical role in improving pupil behaviour and academic performance.

“Meanwhile parents like the fact that piping and drumming build self-confidence, concentration and self-discipline.

“Apart from that it’s a lot of fun and being in a band with other children and it teaches the value of teamwork, as well as the importance of appearance and time-keeping.

“Coming from the home of piping makes it easy for Scottish bands to get engagements overseas.

“These provide children with an opportunity to travel the world in good company, while spreading a musical message of goodwill and sometimes being very well-remunerated for the experience.”

More than 400 youngsters aged ten to 18 will descend on Edinburgh next month for a brand new schools piping and drumming competition.

Participants hail from 40 different schools as far as Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides, Aboyne Academy in Aberdeenshire and Hawick in the Scottish Borders.

While piping and drumming already enjoy a well-established following in Scotland’s independent schools, a healthy number of those taking part are from the state sector.

The SSPBC are also looking to sort financial aid for schools and education authorities who put piping and drumming on the curriculum.

Mr Johnston added: “There’s no doubt interest in school piping has been steadily increasing in the past 10 years, partly because piping has gradually grown quite trendy.

“Some of that is down to the success of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers and bands like Mànran and Pipedown, but some of it is just the fickle nature of fashion.

“We’ve got pretty big ambitions for getting young people into piping and drumming, but it’s fair to say the number of entrants in our first year has exceeded even our expectations.

“It’s brilliant to have so many keen youngsters developing a real passion for what is, after all, Scotland’s national musical heritage and one we have exported all across the world.”

The competition takes place at Broughton High School on Sunday, March 10.