With an aim to secure its future, the Grade 1 Torphichen & Bathgate Pipe Band of West Lothian, Scotland, is taking things into its own hands by launching an extensive teaching program, targeting primary schools in its region.
Pipe-Major Stuart Shedden says that his band has taken the cue from the decades of success by cross-region rivals Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia and Simon Fraser University in Canada, two bands that practically wrote the book on proactively teaching young pipers and drummers from scratch so that years down the road they may help the Grade 1 band.
The launch of the new program will be on November 23rd at St. Anthony's Primary School in Armadale, Scotland, after the band put up numerous posters in various villages.
"All children will be started from scratch on the practice chanter or sticks and pads," Shedden said. "No child will be turned away and they will all have a month’s trial."
The program was initiated by Torphichen & Bathgate drummer Julie Firth, who will help with the teaching.
"Not only does [the teaching initiative] enable us to put something back into the community, but it also ensures that a regular stream of players will come through the ranks in the years to come," Shedden added. "The piping world only has to look at the success of bands like Boghall and SFU to realise that this type of idea is fundamental to the longevity of a band."
Shedden said that, after his first year as Pipe-Major of the Grade 1 band, Torphichen "is in a healthy state," and that several new members have joined in the off-season. He said that his band currently has 19 pipers, 10 snare drummers, and a bass and tenor section of seven.
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Pipers: The golden rule when working with a reed is, "You can always take material off the cane, but you cannot put it back." So, remember, when removing the slightest amount of material, blow the reed again.