For the first time in decades the Pipe Band Association’s Annual Summer School returned to its old home in the Headquarters at 45 Washington Street in Glasgow. The building has recently undergone a massive refurbishment following a tragic fire a few years ago. It has been redesigned as a really effective performance space for music.
The Summer School is a founding part of the Association’s educational drive and has been in existence for almost as long as there has been an Association. This year the school took as its theme “The Diamond Class” celebrating the diamond anniversary of the publication of the Association’s first adventure into corporate education in the form of volume one of their very own tutor book, known affectionally as “The Blue book’. Volume two was “The Brown Book”
Events like the school are designed to showcase the syllabus of education which the organisation promotes, therefore the content of the timetable takes in the main points of the P.D.Q.B curriculum – reading and writing music, understanding time and learning about Rhythm, Melody and Harmony. The school aims to show its students how these things go to making you a better player and with lots of practise, an even better player. Despite all of these seemingly droll subjects, the aim of the school is to offer the three ‘F’s”
The school was attended by ten pipers and two snare drummers ranging I age from 9 to 16 years old all coming from very different piping and drumming backgrounds. There were those who had only moved onto pipes in the previous few months and those who had spread their wings into the more advanced forms of our music.
It must be said that within a very short time all of our students found their level and began to work together using the Summer School handbook to apply all of the theory to the practise.
This year to demonstrate the results of all of this, we had a few exciting guests who are currently playing at the highest levels in Pipe Band Performance.
On Tuesday we welcomed John Dew, currently a member of Inveraray and District Pipe Band who took on the task of the subject “applying theory to practise”. John made this rather dull title into an exciting, interactive afternoon. John performed a March, Strathspey and Reel after which he broke down how he approached each composition in order to present it musically to his audience. He left a very motivating impression on his students.
On Wednesday we were pleased to welcome Lauren Thomson. Lauren is a part of the Tenor and Bass section of Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band. Lauren’s subject was the role of the mid-section within the Pipe/Drum Ensemble. Assisted by Pipe Major Keith Bowes Senior and our resident drumming instructor Cameron Lawson, Lauren related her session to the lessons delivered on time signatures and rhythm patterns to show how the mid-section complemented the piping composition and the snare drum scores written to accompany it. This session was presented to all of the student body and it brought a new awareness to some of our young players of the impact a competent corps can make to a Band performance.
On Wednesday night the Summer School were guests of Johnstone Grade One Pipe Band led by Pipe Major Keith Bowes Junior. The Band demonstrated the approach to rehearsal, performing elements of all of their competing material and giving us a thoroughly enjoyable evening of exemplary Piping and Drumming.
Thursday saw our own Cameron Lawson step up in a guest spot. Cameron is a colleague of Lauren in that they both play with the same famous Pipe Band.
Cameron’s subject examined how a snare corps engages rudiments to provide consistent rhythms in a performance but also how it might add drama to the piece. Cameron demonstrated various aspects of rhythmic scoring including ‘light and shade’ and the impact of rudimentary exercises on any given time signature and its incumbent forms of our music.
By the time we reached the end of the week (and it flies in really quickly), the students were ready to perform before an invited audience of friends and family members. In this short space of time they produced a Slow Air with harmonies written by the students themselves, and a two parted March, Strathspey and Reel. The performance went down well with the audience and followed with a presentation of certificates for each student.
John Nevans, the College Principal for the Summer School commented.
“This is my thirtieth year of involvement with the Summer School and I never grow tired of welcoming our students to the school each year. It remotivates me every year and this year especially when we are back to in person teaching in this very fit for purpose building. Roll on thirty-one”