Sgoil Lionacleit Pipe Band head for championships

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Sgoil Lionacleit Pipe Band is competing in the first Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships this weekend.

The school band are travelling to Broughton High School for the event which will include bands from more than 40 schools.

David Johnston is Chairman of the committee behind the competition, which has the motto, Every school needs a pipe band. He added: “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.

“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.

“There won’t be any complaints from us. We’re delighted to see a new generation trying out pipes and drums for the first time and we believe this is just the impetus we need to build on.”

While Scotland’s independent schools already have a strong number of pipers and drummers a healthy number of those participating are from state schools.

Mr Johnston, of East Lothian, added: “We’re getting feedback from schools that setting up a pipe band can play a critical role in improving pupil behaviour and academic performance. In other words, you don’t need Gareth Malone and choir singers to make a real difference.

“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.

“There can also be more obvious rewards. 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.”

To reflect the broad range of abilities, the competition will take part in various sections, including a ‘debut’ category for the 21 bands which will be making their first competitive appearance. Judges will come from world-renowned Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, which is backing the competition - RSPBA Chairman Gordon Hamill is a high-profile Patron of the Championships.

Winners on the day will collect their prizes from Mike Russell, the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning.

Entries are already being invited for next year’s competition and more details can be found at www.scottishschoolspipebandchampionships.com

Pictured are the band at the Meeting of the Bands event held at the Macleod Stone in Harris last March. Playing alongside the former world champions St Laurence O’Toole Pipe Band and all the local adult bands, the young band shone with their impressive performance.