South West of Scotland Piping & Drumming Academy has ended 2023 on a high. We are now teaching Highland bagpipes and Pipe Band drumming in 8 Primary Schools and 9 Secondary Schools across Dumfriesshire and the Stewartry, teaching around 140 school children.. We would dearly love to do the same in Wigtownshire, but as we rely on private donations and grants from various sources like The Holywood Trust and the Scottish Schools Pipes & Drums Trust, and because everything we do is completely free – at present – to the children and to the schools. our current finances at present will not stretch this far. However, maybe some day.
Earlier in the year, during the second week of the schools holidays, we held our Annual Summer School at SRUC Barony Campus. This was our 8th Summer School – should have been our 10th, but we missed out on 2021 and 2022 because of the Covid Pandemic. We played host to 59 school children from across the region all getting daily tuition in their chosen disciplines, preparing for and sitting music exams set by the Piping & Drumming Qualifications Board. These exam results are recognised by the Scottish Qualification Authority., and passes will stand the children in good stead as they progress into further education. We had 51 candidates sat the exams, and all but two passed both theory and practical aspects. A great result.
During their week, all the children knew they would all be involved in an end – of – week concert on the Friday evening, to demonstrate to their parents what they had learned during the week. This was attended by around 200 parents, friends and supporters, and the children put on a tremendous performance, culminating with what will have been the biggest public schools pipe band ever to have played in Dumfries & Galloway, and, perhaps even in Scotland – 31 pipers, 3 bass drummers, 5 tenor drummers, 8 snare drummers and three children playing on practice chanters. We also had six year old Callum Dick as drum major.
SWSPDA has monthly workshops at the North West Community Campus school in Lochside Dumfries, on the first Saturday of every month – young beginners, pipers and drummers – from 10.30am until 12noon. More advanced pipers and drummers from 12.30pm until around 4.00pm. Anyone can call in to these workshops to see what we are doing, have a tea or coffee, and in the afternoon they will hear one, or possibly two, school children’s pipe bands playing. This is awesome, and very emotional.
Our Dumfries & Galloway Schools Pipe Band will be competing at the Scottish Schools Pipe Band Competition on Sunday 10th March in the William McIlvanney School in Kilmarnock. Coaches will be taking the children, their parents, friends and supporters and of course tutors to this competition. Anyone interested in joining us, please let us know by calling 07754 326746 as soon as possible, as one coach is already over subscribed. Dumfries & Galloway Schools Pipe Bands are no strangers to this long running competition. We were champions in our class in 2019 – in a class of 16 bands – 6 of which came from fee paying schools where piping & drumming tuition forms part of the school’s curriculum. Two Dumfries & Galloway Schools Pipe Bands competed in 2020, and both were very commendable seconds in their respective classes. No competitions in 2021 and 2022, because of the devastation caused by Coved-19 – not in a position to compete in 2023 – but back in the ring fighting for Dumfries & Galloway Schools.
A quartet of our young pipers will be playing outside Tesco Store in Annan on Saturday 30th December.
A Dumfries & Galloway Schools pipe band will be playing at Cowhill Tower gardens Open Day on Sunday 3rd June
An end of school year concert is being planned to be held in the North West Community Campus, before the schools break up for the Summer Holidays. More about that later.
Email / Newsletter.
Anyone interested in hearing what we are doing, and would like to be included in our monthly email / newsletter, or having a child wanting to learn bagpipes or pipe band drumming, or simply being a supporter, please come along to one of our monthly workshops and give us your details.
Dumfries & Galloway School Children.
This was a tremendous performance by our young pupils.
Written by A.McCartney