Talented young pipers and drummers from the Fife area will take part in a first of its kind school’s piping competition, helping refuel a passion for Scotland’s national music heritage.

Students from five schools across Fife will travel to Edinburgh next month, to take part in the first ever Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships, with the majority experiencing their first taste of public performance.

Pipe bands from, Lochgelly High School, Beath High School, Kirkcaldy High School, St Leonards School and Madras College, will join over 40 other school bands to battle it out to be crowned the best school piping band in Scotland.

Andrew Keatings, bag piping teacher at Beath High School, said: “I think these championships are a great idea, we are all so excited to go and perform in Edinburgh. It’s very encouraging to see all of my students coming together and how much they have improved over the past two years.

“I have been teaching the students since they were in primary six, when they were around ten years old, and now they are in first year of High School and the difference in them is absolutely amazing to see. Younger students are also being encouraged to join when they see how much the older students enjoy themselves and how much fun it is playing in a band.

“They are all so focused and driven when it comes to bag piping, they have really impressed me with their skills and dedication towards the band. Hopefully this will take them far in the competition.”

The Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships will take place on Sunday March 10 at Broughton High School in Edinburgh

To reflect the broad range of abilities, the competition will take part in various sections, including a ‘debut’ category for the 21 bands which will be making their first competitive appearance. Judges will come from world-renowned Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, which is backing the competition – RSPBA Chairman Gordon Hamill is a high-profile Patron of the Championships.

Winners on the day will collect their prizes from Mike Russell, the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning.

Michael Russell, Cabinet Secretary for Education, said: “I am delighted to be coming to the first ever Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships and am very much looking forward to seeing the performances from the hundreds of pupils travelling from all across the country to play in Edinburgh.

“The music of the pipes and drums is so entwined in our culture, our history and how others see us. It is wonderful that championships like these are encouraging more and more young people to take it up and showcase the immense musical talent we have.”

Organisers of the event are delighted at the interest in schools across Scotland and they believe that the momentum created by the competition, could see pipe bands established in hundreds more schools.

David Johnston is Chairman of the committee behind the competition, which has the motto; every school needs a pipe band. He said: “Its great to see so many students getting involved in this year’s competition, particularly from those schools outside of Edinburgh who will make that extra effort to travel through and compete.

“We’ve got pretty big ambitions for getting young people into piping and drumming, but it’s fair to say the number of entrants in our first year has exceeded even our expectations.

“There’s no doubt interest in school piping has been steadily increasing in the past 10 years, partly because piping has gradually grown quite trendy. Some of that is down to the success of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers and bands like Mànran and Pipedown, but some of it is just the fickle nature of fashion.

“There won’t be any complaints from us. We’re delighted to see a new generation trying out pipes and drums for the first time and we believe this is just the impetus we need to build on.”

Entries are already being invited for next year’s competition and more details can be found at: www.scottishschoolspipebandchampionships.com

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