------Est. 1980 Glasgow city centre's oldest bagpipe shop------
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Dear Piping Enthusiast,
A Happy New Year from a cold, wet, snowy, icy Glasgow. I wish I was in the Southern Hemisphere instead - not just for the friendly welcome and nice weather there but to catch up with our many customers. There is probably not one day that goes by without a nice email from someone in Oz or NZ.
In our frozen part of the world, there is not much to do at this time other than to get the correct items for the coming competitive year or indeed for your year of weddings, funerals, foreign travel and so on. If you are travelling, then don't forget your spare items - reeds, bag, hemp et al - it's hard to find back-up in places like Vietnam,China or India. As an aftermath of the British Empire, you could have some luck in north east Pakistan in a place called Sialkot - they have an industry making bagpipes, kilts, hose, tunics and almost anything to do with pipe bands but product quality and personal security might put you off making the journey! (Winter scene is of the River Luggie, which James passes every day on his way into the shop.)
Going back to the weather, I'm sure Neil Hall ex P/M Edinburgh Police and the guys in Oman are enjoying the warmer climes there. The quality of piping in Oman is surely going to improve, with Neil who's been there for a few years now, along with new instructors Alan Johnston and P/M Stout ex Army - the Army's loss is Oman's gain for sure. Another old friend, Jim Semple, is there too - I think I'll write to the Sultan to see if there are any more vacancies. Can you spot any of my pals amongst the Sultan's Royal Mounted Pipe Band?
I'm looking forward to the Uist and Barra solo competition this year (see below) and the Wheel of Fortune
event in Danderhall Miner's Club. Piping is not all about gold medals - these two events are of the highest standard and worthy of support. In saying that, there can be no higher accolade than winning an event at Inverness, Oban or indeed Luss, Lochearnhead and Glenfinnan - the latter three are just as worthy. There have been a few changes recently at various Glaswegian centres of piping excellence - Chris Armstrong is off to new projects, having done a great job at The National Piping Centre. As we all know, Rab Wallace shifted to pipingpress.com
after putting a huge amount of drive and energy into successfully developing and modernising The College of Piping.
The Begg Bagpipes Merit Award 2014.
Thanks to everyone who took part in our search for someone who has gone over and above the call of duty in the promotion and development of piping. It would be easy to argue the case in favour of all the entrants and extremely difficult to single one person out from the others. After lots of deliberation, we are pleased to announce the Begg Bagpipes Merit Award for 2014 goes to June MacIntosh of Forres, Scotland. Congratulations to June, and in addition to worldwide acclaim through our newsletter, June will receive a voucher for £250 to spend with Begg Bagpipes and a beautiful solid silver Piobaireachd Society kilt pin. (Photo of June courtesy of the RSPBA)
The following paragraphs will give you some background to June's achievements viz.
Since first coming to Forres in 2013, the European Pipe Band Championships has been a great success, not just from the competitors point of view – it is undoubtedly a great venue, but also with a regular audience of around 17,000 it has been a success in bringing an economic boost to the town of Forres in Moray and most importantly for the spectators it is also a great family fun day out.
An unforeseen benefit however has been a huge boost in the number of new players taking up the pipes. All 3 Pipe Bands in Moray reported an increase in membership and interest in playing the pipes since the championships came to the area but in the town of Forres such is the demand that they now have 3 new classes in piping for school age children including a class on the school curriculum. All are a welcome investment in securing the Pipers of the future.
Behind the new classes is June McIntosh a maths teacher at Forres Academy who was herself inspired by the championships into dusting off her pipes. “If it wasn’t for Piping At I would not be playing pipes now. I started off as a child with the Forres pipe Band and then moved to University in Aberdeen. I then became a member of the very successful competing band, the Deeside Ladies but after I got married and had children I stopped playing the pipes. It was in January 2012 when I saw that Forres Pipe Band was wanting to put a band in for the Championships that I decided to start playing my pipes again after a gap of 25 years!”
Fortunately June did not stop there. Recognising an interest from youngsters she began afterschool chanter classes at Forres Academy which were so popular that there are now 3 different types of classes for school pupils an advanced class, a primary school class and a curriculum class.
The first is an afterschool class for pupils who are more advanced and of those 10 played in the new chanter competition held at the Forres Highland Games, and also attend the Forres Pipe Band practice nights along with a few primary school pupils.
Inspired by this success June put out information to the 3 Forres primary schools about an afterschool class and was delighted at the response. “Of the 14 who responded from primary 2 to primary 7, 9 are now learning the chanter and the others whose hands were just slightly too small to manage the chanter this year will get another chance next year. “
However June’s most remarkable success was in 2013 in setting up a timetabled class for 4th year pupils to play the chanter once a week, using the new curriculum for excellence which celebrates the wider achievements of 4th year pupils. A stipulation is that there should be an opportunity for an SQA qualification and June hopes that at the end of the year, all 7 pupils currently on the class will get an SQA qualification in the chanter.
“In total almost 30 pupils are learning to play the chanter since 2012. It is great and fantastic and if it wasn’t for PHF I wouldn’t be taking up the pipes again and there wouldn’t be a class in the school. The event has really raised the profile of the pipes - a few years ago few youngsters in the school would know what a chanter is but now they all know. My long term goal for these youngsters is that they move onto playing in the Forres Pipe Band and help swell the numbers, it will be almost a junior band with a few adults and who knows maybe in a year or two Forres could have enough youngsters to compete in the novice competition!”
The pupils also helped at the new Gordon and Ena Baxter Foundation Education Centre at the Championships in 2014, run by June and with Alistair Dowling who helped with the drumming to tempt newcomers to ‘give it a go’. The centre was sponsored by the Gordon and Ena Baxter Foundation, with chanters supplied by McCallum bagpipes and drum sets supplied by Pearl Music.
“There are so many opportunities for the pupils, they have played at the Forres Youth Concert, they played in the VIP marquee at Piping At Forres in June, and this year (2014) we created a chanter competition at Forres Highland Games for 12 and under and 15 and under and I was delighted that everybody entered it. Recently they were involved in the Findhorn Arts Festival performing in the market place of Macbeth - The Remix event and 2 pupils, a piper and drummer played at the Highland Tattoo at Fort George. A very diverse range of things to take part in as well as the normal performances and Highland Games.”
Whilst June can help with piping she would like to expand this to drumming and is keen to hear from anyone in the area free to teach drumming in the early afternoons.
European Pipe Band Championships, Piping At Forres, to be held on Saturday 27 June 2015, Grant Park, Forres.
Great work June and keep it up!
With the new Northern Hemisphere piping season approaching, it's time to refresh your pipes so why not start off with your chanter reed. 15% off pipe chanter reeds this month - discount will be applied by James C Begg after you order. If you tell James what sort of tone and strength of reed you are looking for, he can select reeds for you.
YouReport - Uist and Barra Piping Competition 2015
Fourteen of the best UK based pipers in the World have been invited to compete at the Uist & Barra competition – with the invitation list drawn from major prize winners in 2014. It will be held at the College of Piping, Glasgow on 7th March from 9am.Pìobaireachd; March, Strathspey and Reel; Hornpipe and Jig. Adults £10; 16 and under £5
- Chris Armstrong
- Callum Beaumont
- Glenn Brown
- Bill Geddes
- Alasdair Henderson
- Faye Henderson
- Finlay Johnston
- Angus MacColl
- Roddy MacLeod
- Willie McCallum
- Peter McCalister
- Gordon McCready
- Douglas Murray
- Iain Speirs
- Craig Sutherland
- Gordon Walker
The judges for all three competitions will be Iain MacFadyen, Willie Morrison and Stuart Samson.
Organisers are hoping to stream the event online, and further details will be included on their Facebook page when this is confirmed.
If you would like to report on any aspect of the Piping World from wherever you live, or if you would like to comment on any articles or issues, we'd be pleased to hear from you. Email to firstname.lastname@example.org