North Ayrshire’s Garnock Valley school bands together for key workers
There have been plenty of online and in-person tributes to essential service workers, but the Garnock Valley Pipes & Drums of North Ayrshire, Scotland, has put together a heartfelt musical tribute by its young pipers and drummers that’s catching attention on YouTube.
The band, comprising students from the Garnock Valley area of villages like Kilbirnie, Beith, Dalry and Gateside. was started only three years ago, and appeared in its first competition in 2019, with some players only at it for four months. Teaching happens in the main high school and the seven primary schools in the area.
Teacher Caitlin Macdonald teaches the band, which is run in conjunction with the Garnock Community Campus Music Department, with support from the highly successful Scottish Schools Pipes & Drums Trust.
“The band are very young and new to the whole piping scene, but are a great little team that love to keep morale up, especially during times like this with lockdown and the schools being shut,” MacDonald said.
“I have always wanted to play pipes from the age of three,” said the band’s pipe-major, Thomas, whose last name can’t be included due to the UK’s stringent privacy laws for minors. “It was fantastic when the Garnock Valley Pipes & Drums project started. This has been a great experience. Last year was the band’s first competing season and it was amazing. Going to the World’s and hearing all the other bands was phenomenal. I loved watching and listening to the Grade 1 bands compete. My ambition now is to eventually compete in a Grade 1 band.”
The Garnock Valley initiative is one of many positive outcomes of Scotland’s considered effort to teach students piping and drumming in both public and private schools. The number of Juvenile and Novice Juvenile grade bands has steadily increased along with the overall standard of performance placing Scotland far ahead of the rest of the world in its depth of talent for the future.
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