The Oban Times, 30 August, 1941
Pipe Music Champion Mr. John Grant
Mr. John Grant, 35 Groathill Avenue, Edinburgh, Assistant Collector of Taxes, Inland Revenue, retired the other day after 28 years’ government service, when he was presented with a silver quaich by the staff of the Collectors Department at Waterloo Place.
Mr. Grant is known to a wide circle as an ardent champion of pipe music, to which he has devoted the leisure of a life-time as piper, composer, and instructor. It has all been largely a labour of love, for the monetary rewards have been quite insignificant.
A native of Morayshire, Mr. Grant, when I saw him the day after he retired, told me his older brothers played the chanter by ear, but it was lost or mislaid, and he was 16 before he had a chanter of his own, and put himself under proper tuition. He traces his tuition right back to Patrick Og MacCrimmon, of Skye, through his own tutor, Pipe-Major Ronald McKenzie, of the Seaforth Highlanders, a noted piper of his day, and piper at Gordon Castle; from him through his uncle, John Ban Mackenzie, and the Mackays’ who were pipers to the Mackenzies of Gairloch, who were themselves taught by Patrick MacCrimmon.
Mr. Grant was for a time piper to Captain Murray of Abercairny, Crieff; then in 1903 he came to Edinburgh, where after holding an appointment on the clerical staff of a big industrial concern he entered Government service in 1913 with the Board of Health, transferring later to the Inland Revenue.
During the last war, when so many pipers fell at the front, the Scottish Pipers’ Society engaged Mr. Grant to teach piping to young boys, and the class, afterwards carried on by himself, grew into eight classes of eight boys each. They were drawn from Edinburgh Academy, George Watson’s, George Heriot’s, the Royal High, and other Edinburgh schools. His tuition, like everything he has done for piping, was given free of charge, but he had the satisfaction of turning out so very fine young pipers.
In 1922, in recognition of this and other services to piping, Mr. Grant was presented with a silver cup by a number of subscribers, headed by his H.R. H. Duke of Connaught. Before that he had been presented with the medal of the Highland Society of London, the first of its kind, as an award of merit for his interest in piping and pipe music during the war. During the war, too, he had classes for the Army from Kneller Hall, under the auspices of the Piobaireachd Society.
Mr. Grant has composed over 40 salutes, laments and gatherings for war. Two selections have been published, and he hopes to publish others. Some of the salutes and laments were for Royalty, and these were all acknowledged, as were wedding marches to the three Royal Dukes–York, Gloucester and Kent. Each salute represented a complement to one who had done something for the cause of pipe music.
His publications include “Piobaireachd: Its Origin and Construction,” which defined the art of Piobaireachd in minute detail. The exigencies, of war, during which it was published, however, curtailed its publication, but an addition [edition] de luxe sold at one guinea. He was joint author, too, with Sir Bruce Seton, Bart., of Abercorn of “Pipes of War,” a roll of honour, recording over 800 heroic deeds performed by pipers during the Great War.
Now that he has retired Mr. Grant proposes to prepare a new and instructive piping tutor, which he claims will enable any intelligent Highlander living in any part of the world to become a piper. He has been a regular reader of the Oban Times for over 40 years, and for a number of years when he had more leisure he was a frequent contributor to its correspondence columns.