Aberdeenshire pipers pitch up for schools’ championships

Aberdeenshire pupils are preparing to take part in this weekend's schools' championships.
Aberdeenshire pupils are preparing to take part in this weekend's schools' championships.

Pupils from Aberdeenshire will be pitching their musical skills against youngsters from across Scotland when they compete in world’s largest schools piping and drumming competition.

A record number of entries, including 72 school pipe bands and freestyle ensembles as well as 14 quartets for young pipers and drummers, are to go head-to-head at Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships (SSPBC) in Edinburgh this Sunday.

The competition – which attracts about 800 youngsters from around 120 schools, including Aboyne Academy, Alford Academy, Banff Academy and Lathallan School – was established to encourage the formation of school pipe bands. It features taster grades for youngsters with no competing experience, as well as providing a forum for schools competing at the highest level.

Currently in its fifth year, the championships – organised by The Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust (SSPDT) – will see pupils compete in seven categories, meaning that bands can enter the category best suited to their skill set and experience.

Scott Niven, piping instructor at a number of Aberdeenshire schools, said: “The schools are very excited at the prospect of participating in the championships.

“We know the standards of musicianship will be very high across the categories, but the pupils have been busy rehearsing over the last few weeks to do our best to bring home success to their schools.

“Whatever happens, we will ensure we both enjoy and learn from the experience of performing at such a prestigious competition – and for the band and our young musicians to continue their love of piping and drumming.

“Last year’s championships really brought pupils from all the schools together, and not just in competition, so we are all looking forward to coming together in that spirit again this year.”

Alexandra Duncan, SSPTD chief executive, added: “We are delighted to see so many schools represented.

“The whole purpose of this event is to encourage the formation of pipe bands in state schools and to put our national instruments on a par with other music provision in the classroom.

“Since the creation of the schools championships, and the formation of The Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust, there has been a considerable increase in the provision of in-school piping and drumming tuition across Scotland.

“We work in partnership with local authorities and others to try and see as many schools as possible offer piping and drumming tuition and eventually form bands bringing real opportunities for the players.

“Currently we support the delivery of piping and drumming tuition to over 1600 young people in programmes across the country and we are very keen to see that number increase rapidly.”