April 24, 2024

Different cultures are bonded by piping and drumming in East Ayrshire

Ayrshire learners get together with pipers and drummers from the Royal Air Force of Oman in Cumnock.

Piping and drumming firebrands Karen and Paul Warren are constantly looking at new ways to promote and build the arts in the Ayrshire region of Scotland.

On April 22nd, “an incredible set of circumstances collided,” resulting in a one-of-a-kind workshop in Cumnock, with four pipers and drummers from the Royal Air Force of Oman, currently studying on a course at the National Piping Centre in Glasgow, came southwest to teach young players at the EPIC East Ayrshire Pipe Band Academy, co-founded and managed by the Warrens.

They called it “Hands Across the Sea.”

The Warrens’ relationship with the Royal Air Force resulted from their teaching in Oman for almost a decade before returning to Scotland to dedicate their efforts to EPIC and area pipe bands.

“Music really is a bond of fellowship that goes far beyond words and brings people together.” – Karen McCrindle Warren

“It was a fantastic opportunity to bring these wonderful people to deepest, darkest Ayrshire – where there is very little ethnic diversity – to introduce to our young students and their families, people from the other side of the world, who look different to us and sound different to us, but realise that we are all the same,” Karen McCrindle-Warren said. “We were all able to sit around the table and play Scottish and Arabic music, speak together and laugh together. Music really is a bond of fellowship that goes far beyond words and brings people together.”

It wasn’t all piping and drumming business. Mohammed, Bader, Ahmed and Sami shared stories about Oman and their jobs as pipers and drummers in the Royal Air Force. That piping is a significant aspect of Omani culture was a revelation.

“Students were given Arabic Music packs with each individual’s name written in Arabic on the front, as well as a name badge in Arabic,” Karen Warren added. As the Omanis taught the music, they learned little bits of Arabic language such as ‘wahed, thinayn’ . . . counting one, two in Arabic.”

Local Councillor Jim McMahon attended part of the day and thanked the Omani pipers and drummers for sharing their expertise and experiences with young Ayrshire students. East Ayrshire Council even organized a buffet so everyone could share a meal.

“This was amazing support from Councillor McMahon and East Ayrshire Council and we really cannot thank them enough for looking after our friends so well.”

Karen and Paul Warren started EPIC – Encouragement and Praise Inspires Champions in 2018. Over five years, the program has brought piping and drumming instruction to many disadvantaged young people in Ayrshire. Last year the program produced a successful and well-reviewed commercial recording, EPIC New Dawn, nominated for Product of the Year in the 2023 pipes|drums New Year’s Honours.

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