A music charity is giving more Scots youngsters the chance to learn the bagpipes in schools by donating more than £200,000 to its national lending service.
The Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust (SSPDT) has loaned 305 sets of pipes to schools, councils and community groups across Scotland since launching their service in 2015.
In the past month alone, 40 sets have been loaned out, and there has been a year-on-year increase in donations since the project began.
Co-ordinator of the Bagpipe Lending scheme at SSPDT, John McLaughlin, said: “We started small but as more people have heard about this service, we have seen an increase in schools, local education authorities and other organisations from across Scotland wanting to take up the offer.
“One of the purposes of the three-year loan arrangement is to give new groups sufficient time to develop their own collection of pipes through their own fundraising activities.
“Local authorities and schools can also buy the pipes towards the end of the loan period so that they develop a supply of pipes which they can pass on to young learners.”
A young player, nine-year-old James Macrae, entered The Western Isle Young Musician of The Year competition just 48 hours after receiving his loaned set of pipes from SSPDT.
The budding musician won against 11 other players in the piping category and, for the first time, proudly performed the specially made left-handed set in the final in front of a large audience.
The SSPDT was created after its founders recognised that being part of a pipe band helps young people to achieve more widely and develop important transferable skills for life, learning and work, but the pipes and drums were not being taught in most schools.
The Trust also recognised that many community bands, once at the heart of their communities, had either folded or were struggling to find new members.
By developing local and long-term models of learning from an early age and into further education and adulthood, the charity aims to give every young person in Scotland the chance to learn the pipes or drums if they would like to do so.
Next month, the SSPDT will host its main event of the year – Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships which takes place at The William McIlvanney Campus in Kilmarnock on Sunday 8th March. Around 800 musicians are expected to take part in what is the world’s biggest schools piping event.
The lending scheme aims to make it easier for pupils to take forward their passion to learn to play Scotland’s national instrument, and in turn, to create more schools pipe bands.
Sandra Taylor, Music Service Co-ordinator at Fife Council, said: “An increase in piping provision in Fife in August 2014 was warmly welcomed and was greatly supported by the loan of 50 sets of bagpipes from the SSPDT.
“This loan of bagpipes has allowed greater numbers of young chanter pupils to progress on to pipes, often at the P7 stage as opposed to waiting until when at secondary school when a set became available. This in turn has increased the activity of ensemble work in schools, with greater performance opportunities available to our young pipers and drummers.”
SSPDT aims to advance the arts, heritage, culture and community development by encouraging youngsters to learn how to play Scotland’s national instrument.
The Trust has helped 47 schools pipe bands to form so far, building on tuition provided in 265 schools. It is currently supporting projects in 22 local authority areas.
For more information visit sspdt.org.uk