June 19, 2013

More drumming moves Down Under with Birrell to Melbourne

While bands in the northern hemisphere are in the middle of their competition season, those in New Zealand and Australia are busy making plans for the future and, following Invercargill’s addition of ScottishPower’s Russell Esler to its ranks, the Grade 2 Hawthorn City Pipe Band of Melbourne has wooed Scott Birrell to take over as leading-drummer. Birrell was most recently leading-drummer with the aforementioned Invercargill.

Birrell will also become the full-time drumming instructor with Scotch College in Melbourne, working with piping instructor Mark Saul, who is also pipe-major of Hawthorn City.

Scotch College conducted an extensive search with applicants from Australia, Canada, Scotland and New Zealand apply the school settled on Birrell for what had previously been a part-time position. Before moving to New Zealand, Birrell was a member of the Grade 1 Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia.

“It opens the way for a structured program of improvement for the school band and the opportunity for boys to continue to drum in the local Hawthorn pipe band once they leave school,” Saul said about the expanded role and Birrell’s addition. “This program is working well for my piping students, many of whom eventually progress to the Hawthorn band. With Scott’s appointment at Scotch as well as Hawthorn’s leading-drummer we will have the complete package. It’s a great thing for the Scotch College band and it will provide the Hawthorn band with a sustainable future and the potential to reach a higher standard.”

Birrell will emigrate to Australia in July of this year and also set up his percussion business.

“I am extrememly honoured to be given the opportunity to work alongside Mark Saul at Scotch College and look forward to us creating something special in Victoria,” he said. “I have been teaching drums in a full time position now for almost five years  and I’ve loved every step. Moving to Melbourne is a great opportunity for both my partner and me, but  particularly  to further  my teaching  skills.”

Saul added that he will be travelling with the Scotch College band to compete in Novice Juvenile at the European Championships in Forres, Scotland, and July 29.

“It’s a long way to travel to play a set of MAP Marches, but it will hopefully give the boys an inspirational experience that makes them want to continue playing pipes and drums once they leave school.”


  1. The Scotch College role is the reason for Scott moving. That’s the job that pays him. Let’s be clear about this. This article implies Hawthorn was the first/main reason. It is not. Seems very handy and convenient to make the LD role at Hawthorn a condition of emplyoment at an unrelated school.



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