Championships attract record entry

Bands from schools across Scotland will compete in Edinburgh next month.
Bands from schools across Scotland will compete in Edinburgh next month.

A record number of entries has been put forward for the world’s biggest schools pipe band event, which will be held in Edinburgh next month.

The Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust (SSPTD), which organises the Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships, is celebrating after an unprecedented 76 school pipe bands and freestyle ensembles as well as 11 quartets for young pipers from across Scotland signed up for the competition, which takes place at Edinburgh’s James Gillespie’s High School on March 12.

The competition – which attracts about 800 youngsters from around 120 schools – was established to encourage the formation of school pipe bands and it covers a broad range of abilities from those with no competing experience to those who compete at the highest level.

Alexandra Duncan, SSPTD chief executive, said the number of entries reflects the interest among pupils in becoming involved with bands.

She said: “We are delighted to be hosting the championships once more. The record number of entries signals the popularity of piping and drumming are in schools. There is huge interest amongst pupils keen to learn.

“Our Trust helps to sustain Scotland’s musical heritage by co-developing piping and drumming tuition in state schools, in partnership with councils, schools and community pipe bands.

“The Trust also helps to raise attainment in schools because pipe band players develop complex skills for life, learning and work including teamwork, perseverance, a sense of discipline and self-confidence.”

The SSPDT has also revealed plans to double its vital funding through its schools programme, giving pupils the chance to learn the pipes and drums on the same basis as other instruments.

In its first year, more than 1,000 pupils across 93 state schools received tuition under SSPTD schemes, which has now risen to 1600 pupils.

But the charity has said it is prepared to invest £500,000 in tuition and loaning instruments in 2017 to ensure even more young people can be taught.

Ms Duncan added: “The vast majority of our young people are not offered the chance to learn our national instruments in schools.

“We are pleased to be working closely with local authorities who are increasingly seeing the benefits of offering piping and drumming alongside other instruments in schools, often in areas where pipe bands can help to close the attainment gap.

“We are delighted to see the programme grow and for new pipe bands to be formed to become a focus of pride for schools and communities.”