On Tuesday the 14th of June, 25 boys and 5 tutors from Brisbane Boys’ College, Queensland, Australia, travelled to Scotland. This was the start of a two-week tour leading up to the European Pipe Band Championships in Forres.
During the Scotland tour, we had lots of fun activities all around Scotland. This included Go Karting, where we split into teams of 3 and raced around a track for a few hours. There were a few big crashes but luckily nobody got hurt. Apart from Vaughn, one of our tutors, who suffered a bit of whiplash along the way!
We also went on a boat across Loch Ness, trying to spot Nessie. Unfortunately, we didn’t find her, but it was good to hear some of the history of the loch.
One of the best activities we did was the Stirling Ghost Tour. We met a very humorous “ghost” outside the hostel we were staying at!
The main event of the Scotland tour was the European Pipe Band Championships in Forres on the 25th of July.
We went to Forres the day before the Euros to have a run through our preparation. This helped to make sure everyone knew what was going to happen on the day. That evening was one of the highlights of the tour. We were in the same SYHA hostel as the George Watson’s Pipe Band! This meant we could catch up with the friends we’d made the previous day when we visited the school.
The next morning, we had an early breakfast and set off for the competition. When we got to Forres, we unpacked the pipes and drums like we had practiced the day before. The boys then set off in small groups for a quick walk around the park. After all the preparation had been completed and we’d finished the final tuning, we marched into the arena to play our March, Strathspey & Reel.
Most (if not all) of the boys felt that it was the best the band had played, and nobody could’ve asked for more than that.
Novice Juvenile A is no easy grade, full of some of the best young bands in the world and we all knew it was going to be tough. Unfortunately, the band just missed out on a place by 1 point. This was disappointing for us, but we knew that we had played to the very best of our abilities. Although we missed out, it was great to see Scotch College from Melbourne come 4th in the competition.
This included some of the top players in the world. Highlights included meeting Steven McWhirter (L/D of Inveraray & District), Keith Orr (L/D of Field Marshal Montgomery), Steven Creighton (L/D of St. Laurence O’Toole), Mick O’Neill (L/D of Police Scotland Fife), Gordon Brown (L/D of Boghall & Bathgate), Jim Kilpatrick (L/D of Spirit of Scotland), Tyler Fry (Spirit of Scotland Tenor Drummer), Stuart Liddell (P/M of Inveraray & District), Callum Beaumont (Solo Piping Gold Medalist) and many more! I’m very lucky, in that I’d met most of these ‘stars’ before, through going to international workshops in Australia.
We also got to meet other kids from schools such as Dollar Academy, George Watson’s, Scotch College (Melbourne, Australia), Knox Grammar (Sydney, Australia), and Boghall & Bathgate (Novice A and Juvenile). These are some of the top school pipe bands in the world!
It’s hard to know what to write about, because there was so much that we did. Performances at Edinburgh and Stirling Castles, competitions at Lochore and Helensburgh, as well as many other occasions in which we lapped up the Scottish culture.
The final highlight of the tour was taking part in the Pitlochry Highland Night on the last day of our trip.
Highland Nights are evenings of traditional Scottish music and dance hosted by the Vale of Atholl Junior Pipe Band, which take place every Monday evening during the summer in the beautiful highland town of Pitlochry.
It started with a street march down to a field with the Vale. The BBC boys then did a small performance for the crowd which included “Funky Amazing Grace”, one of our favourite tunes to play. The crowds always seem to like it as well, as it’s quite ‘jazzed up’.
Throughout the evening there were highland dancers, singers and some folk bands playing to the large crowd. A couple of the boys, including myself, were asked to dance by some of the girls from the Vale. A new experience for some of us!
We then did another street march up to the town hall where we had some food and got the chance to meet a few people from the Vale. BBC piper Fearghas Russell kicked off the performances with an awesome solo march. Chloe Taylor, a current World Solo Drumming Champion snare drummer, from the Grade 1 Vale band and I, had a cracking drum-off to finish the night. Great memories!
The Scotland tour experience was awesome. I got to play at one of the biggest pipe band competitions in the world, met amazingly talented people and most of all, represented my school on the international stage. Bring on the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in 2018. I can’t wait!
Please share the article if you can, I would love other young drummers and potential drummers (and pipers) to read about how exciting pipe band life can be and the opportunities it presents to travel the world and make new friends!
I’d love to hear from you! Have you been on a great tour with your Pipe Band? Where did you go and who did you meet? Let me know in the comments below!
*All photos courtesy of Brisbane Boys’ College Parents. Follow BBC here.
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