OT: 28 July 1923 – H.S. Strafford “Pibrochs for Youths at Cowal Gathering”

The Oban Times, 28 July, 1923

Pibrochs for Youths at Cowal Gathering

RoseGarth, Dunoon, 21st July, 1923

Sir,– I have read with care the correspondence on this subject appearing in your columns, and have failed to discover any reason given, beyond strength of fingering, why a youth is unable to play pibroch as efficiently as one of mature years. Primarily as against that argument, I adduce the fact that Pipe-Major George MacLennan, Gordon Highlanders, secured premier honours at most of the principal Gatherings, including Cowal, when between the age of 21 and 25. Not being a piper, but possessing a good average knowledge of music and some musical instruments, I would like to put a few questions to those authorities who have expressed their views on the subject. Given equal dexterity and strength of fingering and a soul for music, why should a man of 20 not play as well as one of 40 years? I take it there can be no modulating of the volume of sound with the pipes, and in consequence no crescendo or diminuendo passages. Is it the phrasing, the cadences, the legato, the grace notes, the lilt, or the whole of them combined. Obviously, I ask these questions in the interests of the young pipers, who are practicing hard for their first appearance as piobaireachd players, and who, I am sure, will be glad of any guidance the experts can give them. –I am, etc.,

H. S. Strafford

Hon. Sec. Cowal Gathering