Pipes and Drums do Scotch proud at Forres
ABOVE: THE BAND CELEBRATES ITS SUCCESS AT THE EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP AT FORRES, SCOTLAND
The Scotch Pipes and Drums band performed extremely well in the European Pipe Band Championships, held during the Term 2 holidays at Forres near Inverness in Scotland, achieving fourth place overall in the Novice Juvenile A category, which included two second places for piping and fourth place in drumming. Twenty-two boys and four staff made the two-week trip, and enjoyed a jam-packed itinerary with a good mix of piping and cultural activities.
Landing in Glasgow, the group first toured the National Piping Centre, led by the very experienced head of piping studies, Finlay MacDonald. That evening the drummers visited the band practice of legendary drummer Jim Kilpatrick and his drum corps of the Spirit of Scotland Pipe Band. Kilpatrick (of whom our drumming instructor Scott Birrell was formerly a pupil) has won 16 world solo drumming titles. The pipers visited another teaching institution, the College of Piping, to watch the 10-time world champions Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band go through their paces.
Cultural activities in Glasgow included admiring the beautiful gothic architecture of Glasgow University, and visits to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and the Transport Museum.
The first contest of the tour was on Sunday at Helensburgh, a small competition by Scottish standards but a good warm-up in very poor weather for our boys before the European Championships the next weekend. We finished the day well, with two second place prizes after two solid performances.
First stop on Monday was at Stirling Castle for a performance. From there we visited Dollar Academy (previous school of staff member Kyle Warren). Dollar is the current world champion in Juvenile, and it would be their seconds team competing in our Novice Juvenile A category in Forres. From there it was a very pleasant and scenic drive heading north-west through the Glencoe valley to Fort William, ready to catch the Jacobite steam train to Mallaig the following morning.
From the small town of Mallaig we caught a small ferry over to the Isle of Skye. Once on land we made our way to the Gaelic college, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, for a tour and introduction to this ancient language. As night came it was early to bed once more as we were to set off touring Skye the following day.
On Thursday we made our way east via the beautiful Eilean Donan Castle and on to Drumnadrocht, as we turned our attention to the upcoming European Championships on the Saturday. Good practices on Thursday and Friday with a visit to Inverness in between boosted the band’s confidence.
Saturday morning came, and the bus journey to the contest was quiet, as we all focused on the task ahead of us. Arriving at the bus park and taking a space in between 140 other coaches with bands and the sound of music everywhere is something you cannot quite prepare for. The buzz is incredible, as is the sense of occasion.
We approached the line with confidence. With more than 25,000 competitors and spectators in attendance, a huge crowd watched on. ‘By the right, QUICK MARCH’, and away we went. The band finished to great applause, with many parents having made the trip voicing their support along with locals, and of course many rival bandsmen having been keen to see what Scotch College had to offer.
A very strong performance from both pipers and drummers meant the boys could walk tall the rest of the day, knowing they had delivered under pressure when it mattered most. All the boys took the opportunity to get up close to the big Grade 1 bands to see and hear what it is like at the very top level of our art – including supporting TIC Pipes and Drums Mark Saul as he competed with previous European champions Inverary and District Pipe Band.
As the day came to a close the massed pipes and drums of 140 pipe bands played Scotland the Brave together before the results were announced – a sight and sound to stir any soul.
The announcement of ‘Scotch College Melbourne’ as fourth in Novice Juvenile A was greeted with great delight and a huge cheer from the band. Our two second places for piping (behind Dollar Academy) and fourth place in drumming ensured both corps were thrilled with their result, placing us above many regular prize-winning bands and also the two other school bands from Australia who made the trip; Brisbane Boys’ College and Knox Grammar from Sydney. The placings bode well for the upcoming Australian National Championships in Sydney this October.
The following day we made our way down the east coast to Edinburgh via the Culloden battlefields where the band performed at this historic site, and next day the boys performed at Edinburgh Castle, home of the world famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
Ghost tours and visits to the Edinburgh Dungeon along with free time to explore the famous Edinburgh Royal Mile, taking in the stunning city architecture, was a fun and relaxed way to end the tour after the competitive focus and countless band practices.
Many memories were made from this jam-packed tour. The boys arrived in Glasgow as hopefuls and left as prizewinners, doing Scotch and themselves very proud indeed.
KYLE WARREN — PIPING INSTRUCTOR
ABOVE: PERFORMING FOR ENTHUSIASTIC TOURISTS AT EDINBURGH CASTLE