Bute’s best young pipers and drummers will travel to Edinburgh next weekend to take part in the first ever Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships.
Approximately 20 students from Rothesay Academy will travel to Broughton High School in the city on Sunday, March 10, joining more than 40 schools and four hundred children aged between five and 18 in the fight to be crowned the best school pipe band in Scotland.
The Academy will be represented by young players from the Rothesay and District Pipe Band which was formed over 35 years ago and has more than 50 members.
As well as taking part in events at the school, the band also supports other local and community groups, often performing in a range of competitions and at local and charity events.
The contest will also act as a curtain-raiser for the 2013 competition season, which gets under way in May.
Band secretary Jane Gillies said: “With a 35 year strong piping tradition, we are very much looking forward to taking part in the first Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships.
“This is a major event for us. It seems there has been a big uptake in piping and drumming recently and I am hopeful that the first Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championship will further raise awareness of our national music heritage and traditions as well as highlighting the number of young people involved.
“We are extremely excited about the championships and although we have competed in a number of competitions before, this is a fantastic opportunity to show case the musical talents of students across Scotland.”
To reflect the broad range of abilities, the competition will take part in various sections, including a ‘debut’ category for the 21 bands which will be making their first competitive appearance.
Judges will come from world-renowned Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, which is backing the competition - RSPBA chairman Gordon Hamill is a high-profile patron of the championships.
Winners on the day will collect their prizes from Michael Russell MSP, the Scottish Government’s cabinet secretary for education and lifelong learning.
Mr Russell said: “I am delighted to be coming to the first ever Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships and am very much looking forward to seeing the performances from the hundreds of pupils travelling from all across the country to play in Edinburgh.
“The music of the pipes and drums is so entwined in our culture, our history and how others see us. It is wonderful that championships like these are encouraging more and more young people to take it up and showcase the immense musical talent we have.”
The organisers of the event believe that the momentum created by the competition could see pipe bands established in hundreds more schools across Scotland.
David Johnston, chairman of the committee behind the competition, which has the motto “every school needs a pipe band”, said: “It’s great to see so many students getting involved in this year’s competition, particularly from those schools outside of Edinburgh who will make that extra effort to travel through and compete.
“We’ve got pretty big ambitions for getting young people into piping and drumming, but it’s fair to say the number of entrants in our first year has exceeded even our expectations.
“There’s no doubt interest in school piping has been steadily increasing in the past ten years, partly because piping has gradually grown quite trendy. Some of that is down to the success of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers and bands like Mànran and Pipedown, but some of it is just the fickle nature of fashion.
“There won’t be any complaints from us. We’re delighted to see a new generation trying out pipes and drums for the first time and we believe this is just the impetus we need to build on.”