Piping across the isles

After a difficult year cause by the Covid-19 pandemic meaning that pipers were unable to perform it is fantastic to hear the skirl of the pipes once more.  As restrictions are gradually eased with the Western Isles being placed in level one, pupils have been able to receive live lessons in schools on chanters and bagpipes again rather than e-Chanters.

Another benefit to the easing of restrictions has meant that pipers have been able to meet, rehearse and play in groups outdoors, subject to social distancing and other safety mitigations.

Here’s a round up of what the pipers have been up to recently.

Lewis & Harris Youth Pipe Band

On Saturday the 21st of May the Lewis and Harris Youth Pipe Band finally managed to get back to practice in person,  for the first time in 14 months, on the Lews Castle Green . Since the pandemic hit they have had online weekly lessons with Piping Instructors Ashley MacDonald and Anna Murray as well as David MacLennan, in order to keep the players going. They are delighted to be back, although socially distant from each other following the Scottish Government advise. The other major milestone for LHYPB was to meet the new drummers along with Eilidh Young, the Comhairle’s apprentice Drumming Instructor in partnership with the Lewis and Harris Youth Pipe Band. Since Eilidh started in January she has also taught the young drummers online.

Members of the public have said how happy it made them feel to hear the youth pipe band and that they could also be heard from Stornoway Town Centre. The youth pipe band hope to be able to go on parade through Stornoway Town this summer when more restrictions ease. Keep an eye out on their own Facebook page for any other updates. In the meantime have a look at the video from their rehearsal on the link below:

Lewis & Harris Youth Pipe Band – Lews Castle Green 28 May 2021

Connecting schools with music and Gaelic

The photograph shows  Alysaa MacLeod from Sgoil Breasclete and Lena MacKenzie from Leverhulme Memorial school, both age 11. They have started to meet each other once a month online to receive their chanter lesson together.

Piping Instructor Ashley MacDonald has arranged this to encourage them both. Currently Alyssa is the only pupil in Sgoil Breasclete taking chanter lessons.  Ashley said “It’s really great to see the girls together, normally you wouldn’t meet other pupils from other schools unless there was an event that they were attending, so this way they both get to hear each other and give each other company too. Perhaps it might ignite a bit of friendly competition between them.  Both pupils are in Gàidhlig Medium and as well as teaching them in Gàidhlig I have set some time after the lesson for them to get to know each other a bit more and for them to engage in some Gàidhlig conversation. Both girls are doing very well and are just finishing off their tune before starting the next one together. They both are huge crofting fans as well, so their conversation consists of, chanter/piping and crofting which I think is fantastic as that is part of our culture here on the Islands, Gàidhlig, Music and crofting.”

We look forward to hearing how the girls progress with chanter and their new friendship.

Barra pipers play for an 80th birthday ceilidh

It was wonderful to see and hear the Fèis Barra and Castlebay Community School pipers playing together to wish Domhnall Padraig Nicholson, who was the school’s volunteer piping tutor for many years, a happy birthday.

Domhnall Padraig celebrated his 80th birthday on Wednesday 19th May, so to mark the occasion his pipers, under the tuition of Domhnall ‘Ban’ and Esther MacDonald, played a few tunes outside Castlebay School. It was uplifting to hear the pipes again!

Pupils from P6- S6 performed, including Domhnall Eachann Maclean, primary 6,  who is the grandson of Domhnall Padruig.


You can watch a video of the pipers performance here: 80th Birthday Ceilidh


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