OT: 10 April 1920 – An Old Timer “Piobaireachd Competitions at Oban in Inverness”

The Oban Times, 10 April, 1920

Piobaireachd Competitions at Oban in Inverness

5 April, 1920

Sir,–I would like, through your kindness, to endorse every word that your correspondent “Young Piper” writes in your issue of 3rd April with regard to young players being allowed to choose their own tunes for junior competitions. I think the Piobaireachd Society is making a great mistake in this, and killing entirely the good object they have in view, namely the encouragement of good piobaireachd playing. A young player may have learned a score of good tunes from a good teacher, and be an excellent player, still if it so happens as I know it does, that he has not learned the tunes chosen by the Piobaireachd Society, he is debarred from competition, though at the same time the player so debarred may be a better piobaireachd player than any in the prize list. The elder pipers, in teaching, had a certain lot of tunes which the pupil, in order to become proficient, had to learn in rotation, always climbing the ladder until he gradually reached the top and the height of the profession. Under existing conditions, what do we find? Young players begin at the wrong end of the stick, so to speak, or, better perhaps, the wrong end of the chanter. They get hold of a book or books, a method by which no piper was ever known to learn correctly, and they start where many good men had left off, and the result is, the young player who by the proper method would have become a good player, becomes nothing; he finds he cannot keep pace with the lightning method of the Piobaireachd Society. In the former course the tunes are learned and never forgotten, and the latter they are quickly got up and as quickly forgotten.–I am, etc.,

An Old Timer