An ear to the future: pipes|drums checks into the Juveniles at the 2011 World Championships

Published: August 31, 2011
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With most of the world’s attention on the Grade 1 competitions at the World Pipe Band Championships, it can sometimes seem that nothing much else is going on at Glasgow Green. In truth, there are no fewer than 14 other separate contests happening all around the park.

Some say that there are only two true World Champions: the winner of the Grade 1 contest, and the winner of the Juvenile grade. Because only pipers and drummers aged 18 and younger can compete in Juvenile bands (except for the pipe-major, who can be an adult instructor), the grade is truly limited.

The Juvenile grade is one of Scotland’s greatest pipe band traditions. While there are “junior” bands around the world, it is really only Scotland that can produce enough qualified bands to make a fulsome competition at every championship. As a result, those outside of the UK may not have an appreciation for the depth of quality of the Juvenile grade.

The top bands in these competitions can – and occasionally do, when they are allowed to challenge up at smaller competitions – compete successfully at the Grade 2 level. With most of the members having started no more than four or five years previously, the achievement of these schools and communities to assemble such young talent is truly remarkable.

pipes|drums thinks the Juveniles deserve some attention. So, as in 2010 when we listened to and recorded the Grade 2 final, we committed much of the morning not to the Grade 1 Qualifier, but to these eight dedicated young Juvenile bands. The result is eight MSRs that we hope inspire you as much as they inspired us.

With and ear to the future, we hope that you learn from and enjoy these impressive performances.

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  1. DazGregory

    I love to watch this Grade at competitions. The standard is fantastic and it never ceases to amaze me how the conveyor belts rolls out these talented kids year after year. This year at the Worlds there were 22 bands competing in the Novice Juvenile Grade, 12 of which were School bands…the future is bright indeed….

  2. Lawrie

    The kids in these bands are a direct reflection of the people who direct them. Aside from the juvenile bands associated with Grade 1 bands, any school in the world could produce a juvenile band of this standard IF the right people were guiding it. Look at all these bands – the common thread is that they have active grade one players leading them, who clearly have the right attitude. It would also be safe to say the schools on display here are serious about their pipe band, and don’t see it as some sort of tartan parody. It’s a pity that some schools around the globe – that are well equipped to get the right people in – settle for the snake oil salesmen.

  3. seattlepiper

    Not all of these bands were school bands ;-) But you are correct, the standard is VERY high in this grade and it is exciting and inspiring to see so much good music coming from the kids. The only way to go is up!

  4. Lawrie

    Hi seattlepiper. I did acknowledge that not all Juvenile bands are school bands, if you care to read my post again. ;-) These bands are shining examples of what happens when the right people are employed. More to the point; when schools conduct proper due diligence, and not just hire someone who talks a great game and bluffs their way through in an ignorant environment. It’s a great pity that a number of schools around the world, that claim ‘Scottish Heritage’ (often for marketing purposes – to suggest a history, culture and tradition exists) allow their bands to become tartan parodies, where gr4 is terminal and very few (if any) students continue on to bigger and better things with their music. Bands like George Watson College, Dollar Aademy, St Thomas etc – they are excellent pipe bands in their own right. These bands produce players who go on to successful piping careers and experiences throughout their lives. Surely that is what schools are all about? Some band masters might wish to address that question during the months of annual leave they enjoy.

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