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Call for Moray youngsters to pipe up for global contest

By Lorna Thompson

YOUNG musicians in Moray are being urged to get their entries in for the world’s biggest schools piping competition.

The Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships offers a platform to showcase Scotland’s musical heritage – and the search is now on for performers from Moray to take part next March.

This year’s event in Livingston attracted around 800 players, including some as young as eight.

The championships feature eight categories – including a freestyle section which encourages musicians to team up with singers and dancers to create a performance with a fun, creative twist.

Alexandra Duncan, chief executive of the Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust (SSPDT), which organises the event, said: "We want to encourage any individual, school or community group in Moray to look at supporting pupils to represent their schools next year – to proudly represent their region and to help us make these championships the biggest yet.

"It’s a truly enjoyable day of competition, fellowship and fun and the young musicians attending have a chance to create long-term friendships with each other."

A call has gone out to young Moray pipers to enter the 2020 Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships. Picture: John Keachie.
A call has gone out to young Moray pipers to enter the 2020 Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships. Picture: John Keachie.

To enter a quartet requires four pipers, or three pipers and a tutor. Schools that need more players to form a quartet or a band can join forces with other schools in the same local education authority.

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 schools.

Since then, the trust has helped 47 schools pipe bands to form. It also helps existing youth and school pipe bands with grants and the free loan of bagpipes.

In March this year Elgin Schools Pipes and Drums was given an award of £7,400 towards the cost of a new schools pipe band programme based at Elgin High School and feeder primary schools.

In July last year Lossiemouth and District Schools Pipes and Drums Band was granted £6,580 to fund start-up, a hardship fund for 20 pupils, and band practice for one year for Lossiemouth High School and four feeder primary schools. In November last year it was loaned 15 sets of bagpipes, in batches, for a period of three years.

And in March this year Moray Youth Pipes and Drums Association was given £8,300 over two years towards the costs of a new schools pipe band programme at Forres Academy and feeder primary schools.

Alexandra added: "Pipe bands open the doors to travel for young people and are source of pride and focus in schools and the community.

"More importantly though, they give opportunities to develop a unique set of skills for life – resilience, teamwork, self-esteem, perseverance and more."

The championships will take place in Kilmarnock on March 8 next year. For entry details visit https://thechampionships.org.uk/.

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