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Welcome to Begg Bagpipes
------Est. 1980 Glasgow city centre's oldest bagpipe shop------
click on the banner for our home page

Dear Piping Enthusiast,
We recently ended our "Any Questions" series and introduced a new one entitled "The Merits (or otherwise!) of". However, this month, we are going to do one final "Any Questions" and for a very good reason - it is not every day that we get the chance to hear the innermost thoughts of someone who is undoubtedly one of the greatest Pipe Majors of all time - I refer of course to Pipe Major Richard Parkes of The Field Marshall Montgomery Pipe Band, current World Champions. We are extremely honoured to receive Richard's input and I hope you enjoy it.
Yours aye,
James C. Begg
Piping Perfection

We note with great pleasure that P/M Adam Holdaway and the Stuart Highlanders of Massachusetts have been promoted to Grade 1 by the RSPBA. Adam kindly gave us a testimonial a long time back and it all seems to be working for this really good band. "Our grade 2 band is playing your sheepskin bags exclusively and just started using them this past year. Our sound is far and away the BEST it's ever been and I believe it has everything to do with the bag changes."
P/M Adam Holdaway,Stuart Highlanders,Boston, Massachusetts,U.S.A.
We welcomed a Brazilian TV crew to the shop in May, to interview me about Scottish music and tradition. They are filming a show in which the presenter Guito Guerra (who is a musician and a music producer) travels around the world to learn about the music of the countries he visits. The TV show will be broadcast by the main cable TV in Latin America: Globosat, sometime in July. Guito bought a banjo in Edinburgh and a set of pipes from me - we had a duet with the interesting combination of banjo and pipes, followed by a pint and a good laugh at the Mosquito bar next door to our shop.
On a related note, we have a contact in Sao Paulo, Colin Pritchard, who is the Drum Major of the SASPD. It's a shame that Scotland didn't make it to the soccer World Cup Finals since Colin and his Band would have had a ball! He tells us that 95% of the Band is actually Brazilian and so how fantastic is that?? It's amazing how the pipes have such global appeal. Colin sent us the following article about the Band
St Andrew Society Pipes and Drums - Sao Paulo, Brazil
The St. Andrew Society Pipes & Drums – or simply SASPD – founded in March 2009 by friends who wanted to play Scottish and martial music in a peaceful environment, with fun, transparency and camaraderie. The Band has an extremely solid base, with pipers, drummers and dancers who have experience and have participated in International Championships in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and in the World’s Pipe Band Championship in Scotland. ‘Increasingly the Brazilian public is appreciating this art more and more, which our ancestors left us as a legacy. The interest comes along with curiosity, creating a powerful link that helps spread our work and attract new talent ‘ – says Colin Pritchard, a Scot and Drum Major of the band. He is referring to, not just the performances of the Band, but the offer of music lessons and Highland & Scottish Country dancing lessons to all those interested in learning a bit more about this art. and Scottish Culture. We are in our sixth year of life, but with a new group experienced and tuned. Come and meet us to learn how a Pipe Band works and lives in the sunny land of samba and soccer. Contacts:

 Any Questions? - for P/M Richard Parkes M.B.E., M.Sc.
Richard Parkes needs no introduction, other than to say we are delighted that he has kindly agreed to contribute to our newsletter. Click here for Richard's Bio
Q. At what age did you start playing and who were/are your tutors?
A. I started when I was 9 years old. I had three tutors in the early stages, Alexander (Sandy) Cumming, John Garrett and William (Billy) Maxwell. Later in my career in my early 20's I got tuition from P/M Jimmy Banks which was a great help in shaping my style of playing light music. He also gave me a grounding in piobaireachd.
Q. What is the best piping advice you’ve had and who gave it to you?
A. "Keep your bag tight and mind (remember) your parts". This was one of many catch phrases of Billy Maxwell, one of my original tutors and President of FMM Pipe Band until his sad passing in December 2013
Q. What would you say has been your biggest piping difficulty?
A. I have always had a little problem with F doublings and really had to practice them like mad to get them to the required level.
Q. Which is the best piping book?
A. All of Donald MacLeod's books. There are many classics in each one.
Q. Who is your favourite player and why - past or present?
A. Ian McLellan, formerly of Strathclyde Police. He is the Pipe Major that everyone aspires to emulate.
Q. Is there something in piping you wish you could have done but haven’t as yet?
A. I've been really fortunate to have achieved everything that I have in piping, but I would have loved to have had the opportunity to play in the former winners MSR at the Northern Meeting.
Q. What is your pet hate within piping?
A. It's a modern phenomenon but I hate the fact that people go on internet chat rooms and leave their opinions and remain anonymous. I've no problem with different opinions but please leave your name.
Q. What has been your happiest piping moment?
A. All of the World Championship wins.
Q. What is your most prized piping possession?
A. My set of MacDougall pipes.
Q. What do you do outwith piping that might surprise us?
A. I'm not bad at Nintendo Wii golf, my best round to date is 5 under par.
Richard - thank you so much!

Special Offer - Moose Valve
Reduced for the month of June from £21.81(plus vat if applicable) to £16.67 (plus vat if applicable). Moose valve easily fitted with tool provided; no need to remove blowpipe stock; efficient valve and water trap combination. Free postage worldwide too!

WeReport - The new Northern Hemisphere Season has started.
We are up and running for another exciting pipe band season with all the usual candidates in the race for the winning line. It's first past the post in the Majors and yesterday, the Field Marshall did just that at the British Championships. Interestingly, this year the season is shorter than in the past as the Cowal Championship is no longer regarded as a major. However, let's not discount Cowal's allure and bonhomie. We have to admire the Committee's resolve in adversity and in fact, give it credit for not just sitting back and getting pelters from various quarters - it is  fighting back with not quite 2 fingers in reply but certainly with a robust defence of how they are going to proceed. Time will tell if the RSPBA has made a good call or in fact shot itself again in the foot.  The shorter season has some positives but also negatives. It does allow more family time perhaps in it being condensed but may add pressure to the bands and also give little time to adjust any problems that are in the first few events. Ultimately, if you're a slow starter, you've got no chance and I suspect the first winning band will continue to win at the end of season too. There will be no time to improve or recover before the next event is upon you and before you can say by the right - pipes down - oops, that's changed too - we may hear - right lads - any time you're ready - or let's get this over and done with - quick march - or whose round is it - quick march! In the solo world, it was shortened to accommodate the overseas brigade too. This is understandable but it was to the detriment of local players. Perhaps in this case we could have Oban and then just continue up to Inverness the next day - makes perfect sense I'm sure. We have enjoyed the influx of players from abroad and piping has improved because of it. I'm the first person who should grateful for their input and custom but surely we should not bend and sway to every whim? Cowal is a casualty of this quick fix culture. As we all know, divorce is a messy business with no winners. A reconciliation is on the cards and I urge bands to continue to support this world famous bastion of Scottish Piping, Drumming and Culture. As they say, better together - so get your bahookie down to the Cowal Peninsula this year!

A Passing Thought
A possible candidate for the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in September?
(Hey Jimmy - don't give up on the day job just yet!)

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

Piping Perfection
Begg Bagpipes
202A Bath Street
Glasgow, Strathclyde G2 4HW
United Kingdom
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