NS: 19 August 1922 – Unsigned “Tribute to Moray Man As Teacher of Piping” [Article]


The Northern Scot, 19 August, 1922

Tribute to Moray Man As Teacher of Piping
Fostering the “Ancient Legacy of the Gaelic Race.”

Some idea of what is being done to encourage bagpipe playing is given in the annual report of the annual exhibition of the “War Memorial Pipers” held in Edinburgh, a feature of the gathering being a presentation to Pipe Major John Grant, the teacher. An Elgin man, Mr. Grant served his apprenticeship in the office of Messrs. Stewart and Mr. Issac, Solicitors, Elgin, and is now employed in H. M. Customs and Excise Office, Edinburgh,

Numbers of the pupils’ relatives and friends attended the function. Mr. Grant, in the first part of the programme gave a demonstration of his method of teaching by leading his latest pupils through their exercises on the chanter, and with oral examination of the theory of bagpipe music. Six of these, who attended in naval uniform, are being trained for the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. The audience was impressed with the extremely satisfactory progress made by pupils, in their various stages.

Teacher’s Gratuitous Work

At an interval the guests had tea and refreshments under the shade of the trees in the garden whilst the advanced pupils played marches on the bagpipes, on the lawn. In the bright sunshine the Tartan and the glitter of the pipes and figures at the tea tables in the shadow of the trees give a pleasing appearance. After tea was served the advanced pupils led by their teacher in the studio, play together on their chanters, several marches, reels, and strathspeys. The general construction of Piobaireachd having been touched upon, eight of the more advanced pupils played together, on the chanter the greater part of the famous piobaireachd “Mackintosh’s Lament,” after which the Rev. Neil Ross spoke on the subject of Mr. Grant’s work for the last five years. He said:–

“Mr. Grant, on account of the tuition, which he himself received in early youth, hands down the direct MacCrimmon tradition. All his life he has shown a loyal devotion to bagpipe music, and has done a great deal by his example, and his publications, to foster that ancient legacy of the Gaelic race. For the past five years especially he has put his spare time and energy to effective use in teaching several classes of young pipers. He has handed on the old traditions and the old enthusiasm to a younger generation of players. It is with much pleasure that we, who are here today, offer him our congratulations on his work, and on this recognition which he so richly deserves.”

Mr. Ross called upon Mr. Urmston to present the Memorial subscribed for by Mr. Grant’s well-wishers amongst whom were the following names–

His Royal highness the Duke of Connaught, His Grace the Duke of Atholl, K.T., His Grace The Duke of Hamilton, The Earl of Dunmore, The Earl of Cassillis, Lord Lovat, Lord Seaforth, Sir Bruce Seton, Bart., Lieut. Col. John MacRae-Gilstrap, Capt. W. Home Drummond Moray, of Abercairny, Sir Thomas Glenn Coates, Mr. W. G. Burn Murdoch, J.P., Mr. John Bartholomew, O.B.E., L.L.B., Major W. D. Allan (of Elgin), and Rev. Neil Ross, M.A., B.D., and many others.

In the last five years there has been seventy-eight pupils, and thirty were present at this exhibition. The testimonial, according to Mr. and Mrs. Grant’s desire took the lasting form of a silver tea service, and a silver presentation cup.

Mr. Grant’s Reply

Mrs. Grant was thanked for the constant kindness she had shown to her husband’s pupils at their house, and Mr. Byrne Murdoch was also accorded a hearty vote of thanks for his hospitality, and the use of his studio and garden. In acknowledging this, he congratulated the pupils on their being given to understand and admire whilst still in their boyhood the Piobaireachd masterpieces “our greatest Scottish art inheritance.”

Mr. Grant in reply said–

“It is easier to teach that it is to find words to convey my expression of gratitude for such a handsome gift. We are content if, in this twentieth century, we may become pioneers of a new race of pipers who will play the pipes purely for the love of the art. I am proud to say that if I am spared, this work, which is only begun, will be continued, for I believe that the playing of the Highland bagpipe is a noble pastime, and is one of Scotland’s greatest assets. I can assure those who are here, and also the subscribers who are not able to be present that these gifts will always be treasured, both by me and my wife, not only for their beauty, but for the sentiment which they convey.

As Teacher and Author

Pipe Major Grant received his early training in the 3rd Battn.Seaforth Highlanders under the late Pipe Major Ronald Mackenzie, piper to his Grace the Duke of Richmond and Gordon, Gordon Castle, Fochabers, and won the championship gold medal open to a band of thirty-two pipers in 1899. He spent many years in the study of the theory of bagpipe music and research in Piobaireachd, the classical music of the pipes.

He is a composer of Piobaireachd and a thorough scholar in the art. His compositions have been accepted by His Majesty the King, Her Majesty the Queen, by His late Majesty King Edward, and many noblemen and others.

The Highland Society of London’s medal, was conferred upon him on account of his work in Piobaireachd, and for training young pipers during the war, in 1920 (sic). This was an award of merit. He is author and publisher of “The Royal Collection of Piobaireachd,” in two editions, containing twenty-one tunes, the only work of its kind ever published by any piper in his own lifetime, for the purpose of the revival of the composition of piobaireachd.

Mr. Grant is author and publisher of “Piobaireachd: Its Origin and Construction.” He is also joint author of “The Pipes of War,” being a “Roll of Honour” of pipers killed in the war, and a record of heroic deeds done by pipers and all the war areas of the World.