Around 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 head to Kilmarnock for the event – including 72 pipe bands and freestyle ensembles.
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.
The charity 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.
Musicians will compete in eight categories at the William McIlvanney campus in Kilmarnock on Sunday, March 8, including a ‘debut’ category which will involve 10 bands making their first competitive appearance.
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.”
Fiona Lees, Chief Executive at East Ayrshire Council, said: “I attended the Championships last year and I was blown away by the passion and talent these young musicians have for piping.
“Events such as this most definitely benefit our young people in ways beyond the music itself, and I know we have a fabulous day ahead of us with many magnificent performances.”
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.
The judges at will come from RSPBA adjudicators and the winners will be presented with their prizes by the Provost of East Ayrshire Council, Jim Todd.
The Trust has helped 47 schools pipe bands to form so far, building on tuition provided in 265 schools. It is currently supporting projects in 22 local authority areas.
For more information and details on how to enter the Championships, please visit: https://thechampionships.org.uk/