Talented youngsters take a prize in national piping contest

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Talented pupils from the Isle of Arran Music School Pipe Band have scooped one of the prizes in a national competition.

Pupils from Arran High School as well as from Brodick and Shiskine primary schools impressed the judges with their performance of  Blinding Lexy – a fusion of Blinding Light by Coldplay and the tune Lexy McAskill.

The Scottish Schools Freestyle Championships moved online this year to help beat lockdown and keep youngsters focused on their music whilst learning from home.

Event chief executive Alex Duncan said that the response to the event had been outstanding with 16 bands and musicians from 46 schools taking part. Arran finished eighth, securing their first competition prize.

The competition invited pupils to get together online and create music where the pipes and drums play along with other instruments.

Alex said: ‘This was not just a musical challenge on the part of pupils, but a technical feat on the part of tutors: pupils had to practise solo and film their individual part, in time and in tune, in their own home, after which tutors had to combine all the pupils’ films into one performance using technical mixing platforms.’

Red Hot Chilli Piper and judge Craig Munro said: ‘Line-ups included keyboard, voice, guitar, violin or anything – so long as at least two bagpipes were at the heart of it. We were blown away by the talent of the young people and it was hard to choose the winners.’

Fellow judges were Finlay MacDonald, director of piping at the National Piping Centre, along with composer, broadcaster and musician Gary Innes.

The event was played out over three nights on Pipe Bands for Pupils Facebook attracting thousands of viewers who also got a chance to vote for their favourite band.  Prizes totalled £2,000.

The championships are run by the Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust (SSPDT) which has supported piping and drumming in 24  education authority areas with thousands of pupils getting lessons each week.

The SSPDT helps to expand piping and drumming in Scotland’s state school with cash grants for tuition.  It also runs a free bagpipe and concert chanter lending service, and supports paid internships for aspiring tutors.

The results can be watched on Facebook, Piping For Pupils. https://www.facebook.com/Piping4Pupils/