February 2018 Piping Times
Late last year, Ireland’s uilleann pipes were recognised by UNESCO. The instrument and its music are now on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, a list made up of those elements that help demonstrate the diversity of cultural heritage and raise awareness about its importance. The list also includes flatbread making in Azerbaijan, the equestrian tradition in Mexico, Portugal’s manufacture of cowbells, Peru’s Wititi dance of the Colca Valley, the Argentinian Tango, the Armenian Duduk and its music, and the Baul songs of Bangladesh. Perhaps the Piobaireachd Society could take the lead in having our wonderful music recognised in a similar way?
I was in the pipes and drums of the Gordons and neither me nor any of my comrades received their medal for service in Malaysia. I would love to hear from anyone who also served to confirm our service, in writing, to me c/o the College of Piping. It took me 20 years to gather evidence. A whole platoon of Scottish soldiers denied their medals for duties done. They can make Ruth Davidson an Honorary Colonel of a Scottish regiment in one month yet cannot provide us with our medals earned in 1965/66.
… The following evening it was back to Edinburgh for another performance. Three more shows followed in Glasgow, two at the Theatre Royal and one at the King’s Theatre … Afterwards the boys gave Billy [Connolly] a College of Piping tee shirt, which he put on straight away. A few weeks later he appeared on a television chat show wearing it.
Seriously, who at Pacific Quay thought we’d enjoy watching this [Hogmanay Live]? It’s as if the programme makers are trying to convince us – and others – that we are the happiest and most cultural wee country on earth … Precisely who was this programme for?
Every November for nine years, members of Dollar Academy’s World Championship-winning Juvenile Pipe Band have travelled from Dollar to Colombo to experience all things Sri Lankan. In return, they offer up an authentic dose of Scottishness, providing the musical entertainment for the Caledonian Society of Sri Lanka’s glittering St Andrew’s Day Ball.
In 1935 the Society [the RSPS] received a visit from the then Prince of Wales, later to become King Edward XIII … The Prince’s signature is in our visitors’ book. He was a competent piper himself, apparently having been taught by Pipe Major William Ross, and he had also composed the slow air, ‘Mallorca’. At the meeting he played along with the members, his own suggestion of tunes including: ‘The Green Hills of Tyrol’, ‘My Nut Brown Maiden’ and ‘The Skye Boat Song’. Eighteen months later his father King George V granted permission for the use of the word ‘Royal’ in our title and the present name came into being.
It is this model, and these outcomes, that the SSPDT works to bring to other schools in Scotland. We set up programmes that provide tuition from P5 and P6 through transition into secondary school and up to S6. By centering tuition in a cluster of schools, primary pupils get to know one another before they move up to the same secondary school, and teachers report that this helps them to cope better with transition. A schools pipe band based in a single learning community becomes a source of pride and focus, and fosters strong relationships with the community.
Alex Duncan, SSPDT.