OT: 15 December 1923 – H.S. Strafford “Instructing Boys in Bagpipe Playing”

The Oban Times, 15 December, 1923

Instructing Boys in Bagpipe Playing

Rosegarth, Dunoon, 18th November, 1923

Sir,–Doubtless those of your readers who love the pipes, and there are many, will be interested to know that in pursuance of the primary object of Cowal Highland Gathering Association, viz:–”To foster and encourage the playing of bagpipes”–classes are being formed in Glasgow, where youths of 18 and under will be taught to play piobaireachd by a competent instructor, Pipe-Major R. Reid, at a nominal charge imposed purely as an incentive to regular attendance.

This, I may say, is the first step in a scheme which proposes to establish schools for teaching the pipes in the principal centres in the country. Through the kindness of Messrs. Patterson, Sons & Co., who have taken a lively interest in the project, the classes are held in their premises, Buchanan Street, Glasgow. It is intended to take up the study of three of the comparatively simple piobaireachds, viz:–”MacLeod of Raasay’s Salute,” “Too Long in This Condition,” “Struan Robertson’s Salute,” all from MacPhee’s Collection, published at 1s.

At the end of the session, probably in May, and examination by qualified judges will take place. Gold, silver and bronze medals will be presented as prizes and certificates of merit awarded to those deserving same.

Mr. Arch. Clark Kerr of Isverchapel is presenting my Committee with a handsome silver challenge shield for piobaireachd playing by boys. The trophy, with which is incorporated the Boys’ championship, will be competed for annually at the Cowal Gathering. Pupils who have secured a certificate will be eligible to compete for the trophy and championship.

It will be recalled that a competition in piobaireachd for youths was instituted at Cowal Gains in August last. As the project evoked some comment in your columns, may I, for the benefit of those who were not at the Gathering, report results. There were in all 16 or 17 youths under 18, who I believe made their first attempt at piobaireachd in competition. The playing, on the whole, was poor, and according to the judges report, just a third of the number should have attempted to compete. It should be remembered, however, that the announcement of the competition was not made public until about six weeks before the Games, and probably many of the boys had not practised longer than that. We, however, are satisfied that there is a desire to learn; hence the movement intimated above.

For the information of the boys I should mention that the three piobaireachds will be test pieces at the next Cowal Gathering. I may also state that I have interviewed several of the best piobaireachd players of the present day as to whether or not there is anything to prevent a young piper from playing as efficiently as an older one, and that their answers were in the negative.–I am, etc.,

H. S. Strafford,
Hon. Sec.
Cowal Highland Gathering