Mr D MacDonald – Piping

Donald MacDonald, or Domhnall Bàn as he is better known, belongs to Benbecula and is a fluent Gaelic speaker. He teaches pipes in Uist and Barra schools and has over 35 years teaching experience.
He started learning the chanter when he was 13 years of age, and was taught by his neighbour and cousin, Duncan Maclellan. He later attended weekly Piobaireachd lessons in Glasgow with the late Pipe Major Donald MacLeod.

While living on the mainland, Donald played with the Levenmouth Pipe Band and later, the City of Glasgow Pipe Band, where he competed on the Pipe Band circuit for several years. He also competed with some success on the solo competition scene at this time.

In 1984, Donald returned with his family to his native Uist, and he and his wife Esther set up a Piping Club in North Uist, where they provided weekly lessons to thirty youngsters on a voluntary basis for more than ten years.
At this time, Donald joined the local Uist Pipe Band where he became Pipe Major and gave more than twenty years of time and commitment to ensuring the Uist Band continued and thrived.

In 2002, Donald took up the full time Post with CnES as Piping Instructor for Uist schools – his dream job. Since then, the uptake for lessons amongst schoolchildren in Uist has escalated beyond expectation, and the provision has now been extended to schools in Barra. Donald delivers his lessons through the medium of Gaelic to pupils who are happy to converse in the language. He teaches across the Primary and Secondary spectrum and tutors pupils for their various SQA Piping qualifications.

By 2006, Donald had enough pipers to form a children’s band, and  so he established the first ever school Pipe Band in the Western Isles -Sgoil Lionacleit Pipe Band.
SLPB as it is now known, has become a family name in the Southern Isles and includes youngsters from across all of the Islands where Donald teaches – Berneray, North Uist,
Benbecula, South Uist, Eriskay, Barra and Vatersay. The Band competes annually at the European and World Pipe Band Championships, and has become a regular name in the prize list at the Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships – particularly in the freestyle section. In 2018 SLPB attended Tartan Week in New York City – probably one of the highlights of Donald’s teaching career – to March down 6th Avenue with a Pipeband  made up of pupils that you have taught from Primary 5, right through to being competent Pipers.

Donald Bàn still gets the same satisfaction from a day of teaching the chanter today, as he did all those years ago when he gave his first chanter lessons. Donald said “I have the best job in the World and I wouldn’t swap it for anything.”

Mr MacDonald teaches chanter and pipes in the following schools in Uist & Barra:

  • Sgoil Lionacleit
  • Daliburgh School
  • Sgoil Uibhist a Tuath
  • Castlebay Community School