Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships goes virtual

Musicians compete in the Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships in 2018.

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The world’s largest school pipe band event has gone online this year and schools in Scotland are being urged to take part in the online music competition, which has prizes totalling more than £2,500.

The event is being organised by the Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust (SSPDT), which originally cancelled the ‘live’ championship but decided to host a virtual event to beat Covid and to offer children the opportunity to compete.

Convener David Johnston said: ‘We had cancelled the event for 2021 – but then a number of school tutors contacted us asking for the event to go online to help keep young players focused and give them some fun in lockdown.


‘So we have slimmed the event down to just one class – the innovative Freestyle class where pipes and drums combine with other instruments and singers to give a modern twist to traditional music.’

Schools that wish to take part are being asked to express an interest by Sunday February 7, and already eight have signed up.

The competition will be broadcast online across the weekend starting Friday March 26 and the public will have the chance to cast their vote in a live people’s choice event on Sunday March 28.

Some of Scotland’s top musicians will judge the event, including Gary Innes, box player for Manran and presenter of BBC Scotland’s Take the Floor and Craig Munro of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers.


Craig said: ‘Amazing music can be created and orchestrated online now using apps, and this competition opens up a world-wide audience for the youngsters.

‘All bands have to do is film their entries using music apps and submit them for judging by Sunday March 14.’

The prize pot of more than £2,500 will be shared among the winners and details of prize allocation will be announced mid-February.

Musicianship, harmony, originality, innovation, musical interpretation, presentation, rhythm, musical ensemble, vitality, technical proficiency and enjoyment will be important factors in the judging criteria.

Judges will also take into account the variation in technology available to participants, and the effect this might have on the quality of film sound or vision.

The SSPDT offers help and cash grants to councils, schools and parent groups for piping and drumming tuition in Scottish state schools. It also has the world’s biggest free bagpipe loan scheme, lending instruments to hundreds of young players across the country.

The SSPDT is currently supporting the delivery of in-school pipe and drum tuition to more than 3,000 pupils in Scottish schools. Further details of the competition can be found on the SSPDT website at www.sspdt.org.uk