Category: News

Bagpipe and Snare Drum Tutor Required

Forres and Elgin schools require a bagpipe and snare drum tutor to teach pupils up to SCQF level 6 during the school day starting in Aug 2019.

Experience in working in schools is desirable and applicants must be able to develop a youth band.

The closing date is 7th June and interviews will be held between 17th and 28th June. An information pack is available on request. Please apply by email including your CV and a covering letter to A Duncan info@sspdt.org.co.uk

John Channon

2019 Chieftain announced for Forres Games

A MAN who was once pitted against Scotland’s high jump champion at the Forres Highland Games and has worked tirelessly to encourage young people into piping and drumming has been chosen as this year’s Games’ chieftain.

John Channon, the chairman of the Forres and District Pipe Band said he was honoured to have been chosen for the role for the 91st Forres Highland Games which will take place in Grant Park on July 6. However, he admitted he would miss playing with the band on the day which last year won the trophy for deportment and dress.

John who lives in Dyke said: “I couldn’t believe it when I got the letter. I kept it to myself for a while and when I eventually did tell the band, they of course all already knew. The worst kept secret.”

John added: “I really do consider this a great honour and I am really looking forward to the day and being able to meet the stallholders, visitors, those involved in organising the Games, the judges and adjudicators and of course the competitors. It’s a great day out and I am thrilled to be this year’s Chieftain.”

It was during the 1960s and 1970s that John took part in the Forres Highland Games in the high jump and sprint.

“I know the Forres Games well and not just via my association with the pipe band. For about 12 years I took part in the high jump and sprint events. In 1972 I competed against Crawford Fairbrother in the high jump. He was the Scottish champion high jumper and that year he jumped a height of 6ft 4ins which beat me by a clear five inches. I’ll refrain from having a go this year.”

John Channon (right) took part in the Forres Highland Games as a high jumper for many years. Here he is pictured with Scottish champion Crawford Fairbrother.

Originally from Sale in Cheshire, John moved to Moray in 1964 when he was posted to RAF Kinloss. It was during his time in the RAF that he took up piping and in 2009 he joined the Forres and District Pipe Band.

Now the chairman, John has been responsible for putting together the Moray Youth Tuition Scheme which provides free tuition in piping and drumming for 8 to 12-year olds.

Attract young pipers

He explained how the scheme was founded: “It was a long process, but when I first got involved the band was on a downward spiral. We didn’t have enough numbers to even turn out a band. Then it was announced that the European Pipe Band Championships was coming to Forres and it seemed only right that the local band took part. We invited the Major General Seymour Monro as our president to give us some gravitas and we were very lucky to receive investment from the Budge Foundation which helped us revamp the band.”

He added: “At that first Piping At Forres in 2013, we got a band pulled together and we got the biggest cheer of the day from the crowd. At that same event, the Gordon and Ena Baxter Foundation had an education tent where people could come and try and pipes and drums which we manned. Seeing people have a go and be inspired by the piping going on around them was really the catalyst for setting up the Moray Youth Tuition Scheme.”

The Moray Youth Tuition Scheme has been running for three years and has seen around 60 young people learn either the pipes or drums for free.

“It has been a huge success and what it means is that our band and others will continue as there is a throughput of young people who have been given the opportunity to learn,” explained John.

New tuition direction

“However, we are winding up the scheme in its current format and will instead be taking our tuition directly into the Forres area schools. It will be geared towards primary four pupils upwards and will include Forres Academy pupils too. This again will ensure the future of piping, drumming and of course pipe bands.”

The Forres Highland Games will take place in Grant Park on July 6 and offers a fun afternoon for all the family.

The event will commence with the Forres and District Pipe Band leading a procession through the town centre into Grant Park where the Games’ flag will be raised above the arena.

During the day, visitors can also enjoy craft and artisan food stalls, fairground attractions, a beer tent and food outlets.

There is Highland dancing, solo piping and massed pipe bands.

Unique to the Forres Games is the Message Bike Race where spectators can turn participant and race the field on an old traditional message bike in hope of lifting the winner’s trophy!

New trophies for world’s premier piping contest

 TWO new trophies have been launched for the world’s premier piping contest which takes place in the Highland capital this month.

Young performers will be able to compete for a new junior trophy, whilst members of the armed forces could take home a new award at the Northern Meeting Piping Competition which takes place at Eden Court.

The trophy for junior players – the Gordon and Ena Baxter Foundation Trophy – was formerly presented for the best young performance at the Highland Military Tattoo.

Pictured from left are: Trustees of the Gordon and Ena Baxter Foundation George McIntyre and Margaret Stenton with the Major General Seymour Monro and young piper Calum Robertson. Pic Alison Read Digital

However, after it was announced the Tattoo would no longer take place, it was agreed the trophy should be donated to the Northern Meeting for the best young player from the Highlands and Moray.Major General Seymour Monro, Chairman of the Northern Meeting Piping Trustees who organise the contest, said he was delighted the trophy now has a new home.

He said: “It was originally a Highland Military Tattoo Award for the best young performance. However, following discussions with the Gordon and Ena Baxter Foundation, it was decided it could be re-assigned for the Northern Meeting.”

He added: “There is no more fitting place for this trophy particularly as Scotland is celebrating the year of Young People. Whether it be playing solo or as part of a band, it’s so important that we encourage youngsters to take up this traditional Scottish instrument.

“There is a huge drive amongst the piping fraternity to encourage more young players and this year the Northern Meeting will be welcoming young players from all over Scotland and a number are also coming from Canada and New Zealand.”

Kay Jackson, manager of the Gordon and Ena Baxter Foundation said: “Junior piping and drumming has become increasingly more popular in the North East. It is great to see youngsters enjoying their involvement in safeguarding such an important part of our Scottish heritage for generations to come.  Trustees are looking forward to hearing more from these young musicians at this year’s Northern Meeting and we are delighted to see this trophy be given a new lease of life.”

The second new trophy for a piper serving in the armed forces has been donated in honour of the Lieutenant Colonel DJS Murray who died in January 2017.

Lt Col Murray was a soldier and piper and the trophy has been donated by his family.

Seymour Monro said: “David was the Convener of the Northern Meeting Piping Competition from 1974 to 1986. He was key to bringing the event to its current venue of Eden Court and made other innovative changes which have helped grow the contest’s popularity over the years.”

He added: “He served in the Cameron Highlanders and the Queen’s Own Highlanders and did more to encourage high quality piping in the Army than anyone else in his generation. Winning this trophy donated by his family will truly be an honour.”

The Northern Meeting Piping Competition will take place at Eden Court Theatre on August 30 and 31 and attracts competitors from as far afield as Canada, America, New Zealand, Australia and Europe. It is classed as being the finest solo piping contest in the world.

It has been held in Inverness since 1841 and it’s dedicated to Scotland’s unique form of theme and variations played solely on the Highland Bagpipe, known as piobaireachd or pibroch.

Also performed are the March, Strathspey and Reel and Hornpipe and Jig Competitions.

Piping is at the heart of Scotland’s identity and the Northern Meeting plays a key part in promoting this rich musical heritage among Scots, and friends of Scotland, across the world.

Vote for us…..

There is no tuition on the pipes and drums in the schools in Moray unlike the surrounding counties in the Highlands. To fill this void, the Forres & District Band set up a charitable scheme to provide free tuition on the pipes and drums for youngsters between the ages of 8 & 11.

The first batch of 31 youngsters were recruited in October 2016 and allocated places in the new scheme tutored by well-qualified and experienced instructors. The second intake, recruited in October 2017 saw a further 16 youngsters recruited to learn both the pipes and drums and it is our intention to have one final round of recruitment in October 2018. Thereafter, we hope that we may be able to arrange tuition for local youngsters through the education system in conjunction with the Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust.

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Youngsters learning the chanter at Forres Town Hall

In the meantime, after almost 18 months of tuition, the first of youngsters from the class of 2016 are ready to progress from the practice chanter and drum pad to the adult instruments. To provide the continuity of tuition, the committee has during the past year established the framework of a Youth Band to enable the youngsters to continue their studies in a band environment under the wing of the Forres and District Pipe Band.

As the youngsters continue to graduate from the Tuition Scheme to the Youth Band, we would hope to get them on to their first parade towards the end of this year. Subsequently, as the youngsters gain experience under the guidance of their mentors, the Youth Band will grow in strength and will be able to participate in community activities in Forres.

In addition to securing the future of the band, this initiative preserves the heritage of our National instrument and provides a meaningful challenge to local youngsters. It also provides a lifetime skill which improves the social aspects of their lives and by playing in a band it introduces a benign discipline and a sense of responsibility towards their fellow band members and the band itself.

To keep the flow of youngsters running through the Scheme and into the Youth Band we need to raise £3850:00 to meet the tuition fees and venue charges from the beginning of Oct 18 until end of June 19. To this end we are sincerely grateful to the Tesco’s “Bags of Help” initiative for the opportunity to realize this sum and thus to encourage and inspire the young musicians of Forres.

We very would much appreciate your support for this worthy venture.

Voting starts 1st May for two months so don’t forget your blue tokens when your shopping at Tesco, Nairn Road, Forres