March 16, 2020

Piping and drumming. Now, more than ever.

The piping and drumming world, just like the rest of the world, is bearing down on the global COVID-19 crisis.

Many of us are faced with cancelled band practices, a halt on close contact with others, and staying mostly at home.

It’s not a good time for anyone, and the worst is almost certainly to come.

But, once we get through this situation, we pipers and drummers will be better for it in other, longer-lasting ways.

History tells us that, in times of despair, the arts thrive. The World Wars, the harshest and grisliest global crises of the last century, were also golden ages of pipe music creation. Inspired by hardship and fear, the creators among us sought self-expression through music.

These conflicts no one would ever want to repeat. But if there were a silver lining, it was the lasting impact they had, by composers stepping up to provide lasting respite and joy with their music.

Similarly, when the world emerged from these disasters, pipe bands emerged. Pipers and drummers got together in more and better ways than ever. They appreciated the peaceful camaraderie of making music with your friends. In the late 1940s, piping and drumming associations worldwide took shape, to help pipers and drummers get together and stay together by fostering competitions and other platforms for performance.

To be sure, the COVID-19 pandemic and the World Wars are not comparable. What will be comparable, we fervently hope, is that the same silver linings will eventually emerge for us and our little but meaningful and important hobby.

They will express their frustrations and seek their joy through the uniquely human act of artistic creation.

This will be a time of paradoxically working together while apart. Pipe bands will find virtual ways to stay focused and fun. Associations will, we hope, step up to offer support and services to their members.

Pipers and drummers, while hunkered down at home, will turn to their practice chanters and drum pads. They will express their frustrations and seek their joy through the uniquely human act of artistic creation. If the current crisis continues – and we steadfastly hope it diminishes quickly – we might well see a new golden age of piping and drumming.

Highland bagpipes and pipe bands produce music for ceremonies and celebration. We make triumphant tunes in troubling times.

May your future be healthy and safe.

And, as we have seen before, may our art help to heal in the face of this crisis.





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