July 30, 2018

Data shows Piping Live! and World’s getting younger

Young pipers from the Grade 1 Peoples Ford Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia playing at Glasgow Green as RSPBA Chief Executive Ian Embelton, Glasgow’s Lord Provost Eva Bolander, Piping Live! Director Roddy MacLeod and others look on.

According to their data, a third of performers at Piping Live!, and 40 percent of competitors at the 2018 World Pipe Band Championships will be younger than 25, supporting what would appear to be a trend towards youth as the popularity of the pipe bands arts become more popular.

Of the reported 800 performers at the Piping Live! Glasgow International Festival of Piping, which runs from August 13-19, 33 percent are 25 or younger. The World’s has always catered to Juvenile and Novice bands, but one look around will see even the top-tier Grade 1 bands filled with fresh faces and extra-nimble fingers, in all probability due to the UK’s push in public and private schools to teach piping and drumming.

The RSPBA stated that there will be a total of 8,000 pipers and drummers playing in the 214 bands entered for the World Championships, each band thus averaging 37 playing members. Forty percent of 8,000 comes to some 3,200 pipers and drummers being younger than 25.

Some of the younger talent scheduled to perform at Piping Live! are David Shedden’s new band, Assynt; Iona Fyfe; Roo Geddes; and Eriska.

The trend coincides with the tourism organization VisitScotland’s “Year of Young People” declaration.

“VisitScotland’s Year of Young People has seen more 16-25-year olds take an interest in Scotland’s cultural calendar, with piping in particular seeing a spike in the number of young people joining pipe bands or taking up piping as a hobby,” said Roddy MacLeod, Festival Director of Piping Live! in a statement. “Piping is an activity for all ages and it’s always great to see so many people, especially those under 25, travel from as far away as Canada and New Zealand to participate in Piping Live! They’re the future of piping who will keep it alive for generations to come.”

“Piping Live! always encourages young people to get involved in piping and join their local band. We offer free come and try sessions throughout the week of Piping Live! and one-to-one tuition at the National Piping Centre throughout the year. There’s an opportunity for everyone to get involved in pipe music, regardless of their age or skill level – everyone is welcome.”

In the same news release, RSPBA Chief Executive Ian Embelton said, “Young pipers and drummers are the lifeblood of Pipe Bands around the world. Without them competitions like the World Pipe Band Championships simply wouldn’t be the incredible spectacle they are today. By joining a band they become better musicians, learning what it takes to play alongside the best in the world and to one day become champions themselves.”



  1. Am I reading this right that the average number is 37 playing members in every band. Most bands are about 12 or 14 pipes and maybe ten or twelve drums.



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