April 30, 2010

Lyon College announces GHB bachelors or arts degree

Lyon College, the Batesville, Arkansas-based liberal arts school, announced today that it has added a bachelor of arts degree in Highland piping, starting with the 2010-11 academic year. Lyon becomes the third college of university in the United States to offer a piping BA, joining Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh and the University of California-Riverside.

The piping BA will be part of the Scottish Heritage program at Lyon College, which has been managed by the well known piper, Jim Bell. The organization offers scholarships for pipers, as well as those specializing in pipe band drumming and Highland dance.

Prerequisite for the piping degree will be a minimum of a Level 3 certification from the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association, and non-United States-based pipers can also be accepted, but must hold a minimum Level 4 PDQB certificate and meet the school’s entrance requirements. Lyon College will continue to offer a minor in Scottish Arts.

The BA will be directly connected with the college’s music department, and students will have opportunities for internships while participating in the program. According to a statement from the college, students will graduate with “marketable skills.”

The school operates the Grade 3 Lyon College Pipe Band, which competes throughout the United States and, in 2006, in Scotland (shown in homepage photo). The band also performs at many events, and among those at which the band has played are Mardi Gras, the opening of the Clinton Presidential Library in Arkansas and the New York Tartan Day parade.

Carnegie-Mellon is currently searching for a director of its piping degree program after long-time director Alasdair Gillies departed in late 2009.

Several other post-secondary schools in North America, such as Monmouth College in Illinois, the College of Wooster in Ohio, Macalester College in Minnesota, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian College in North Carolina  and Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, have Highland piping programs, scholarships and bands,  but do not offer a formal major in the instrument.

The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow also offers a degree course in Highland piping.


  1. Congratulations to Jimmy Bell and Lyon College as well as any and ALL colleges and universities supporting the art of piping and drumming. BTW, as a holder of a liberal arts” degree from a college that offered me a piping scholarship

  2. Great to hear of another school offering a degree in piping, but let’s not forget about another school with a fantastic band/program that offers great scholarships: St. Andrews Presbyterian College in North Carolina!! Go Knights!!

  3. I never said that St. Andrews offered a music degree with bagpipes as the primary instrument. I just wanted to add their name to the other schools listed in the article as offering a scholarship to pipers/drummers/dancers and having a Scottish Arts program.

  4. I still don’t see the point of a degree in-of all things-piping. I’m all for going all the way with the pipes, but not awarding a degree for it. Offer some classes; provide the opportunity for those who want to learn the pipes to do so. But don’t award a bachelor level degree for it. Then again, I’m of the opinion that a liberal arts degree is a waste of paper and ink anyway…

  5. Some pipers would like to make a living being musicians and teachers. The way I understand it, this degree is a music degree with bagpipe being the musician’s primary instrument. The holder of the degree would be qualified to teach music in schools for one thing. It’s not a degree in bagpipe performance. I also think it’s a step toward improving the overall musicianship of pipers. What is taught correctly at an earlier age will spread. As for a liberal arts degree being a waste of paper, tell it to all the doctors, teachers, lawyers, professors, researchers, and everyone else who graduated from Lyon or other liberal arts schools. A liberal arts degree doesn’t necessarily teach you how to be a fireman, or an engineer. It teaches you how to think, and how to be a well-rounded individual who is able to live a full and productive life. If you don’t get that, well, good luck to you.



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