Sponsorship & Award Feedback
The following feedback was received from those who received a sponsorship award from the Trust. If you’re interested in sponsorship, please find out how to get funded. Our sub-group carefully considers all submissions.
In 2022, I was completing my BA Hons in Applied Music.
Throughout my piping career I have taken much inspiration from Gordon Duncan and his music and for my final recital I was putting in a mini pipe band concert in Stornoway called Road Trip of Scotland. I took the audience on a road trip with tunes from places or places in the tune title. I used some of Gordon Duncan’s Tunes in my medley set which started of with Hector the Hero bringing the story from Stornoway through the strathspey to Pitlochry and Perthshire before heading home to Fife and my story so far of being a piper.
Without the help of the GDMT they helped me fund my final project, and without their help I would not have passed my degree. I have been telling lots of musicians from my course about the Trust and that the Trust can also help them with purchasing rehearsal venues to practice in as our course is a remote course and getting into a university with practice facilities isn’t easy.
I have been successful in gaining two piping instructor jobs since finishing my degree and I am grateful I can teach the next generation of pipers and tell my stories and knowledge, I look forward to seeing more pipers graduate from the UHI Applied Music course and also promote the course to young pipers and drummers and trad players.
Thanks again for your support I really appreciate it.
I would like to thank you dearly for helping me fund the once in a lifetime trip to Barbados with the Strathallan school pipe band. This trip has not only been absolutely amazing, but my piping has only gotten better.
We started off the week at 3.00am on Tuesday the 16th of May and went to the airport in Edinburgh where we took the plane to Heathrow and then got on the Conexion plane to Barbados. About one hour after we landed, we went straight to a Pipe band rehearsal for a gig called the odyssey concert at St Patrick’s cathedral in Bridgetown that we had to do during the week. This helped me learn to play my pipes better even after a mega voyage which will be useful in the future when I go around the world with my pipes.
Fast forward to Wednesday evening, we performed at Harbour lights dinner show where I played a solo Highland cathedral in front of a Bagian audience. This helped me grow my confidence whilst performing in front of quite a few people. The following day: Thursday, we had piping workshops in the morning with Conor Sinclair and Roddy MacLeod MBE, this was the day where I learnt the most. We had one hour with Conor, 27 years old (winner of the March, Strathspey and Reel at the Glenfiddich championship). This is one of the most prestigious solo competitions in the world, where you must win several other competitions to compete, telling us that you must be an elite level player to even play in the competition, never mind win it! And one hour with Roddy, a 5-time winner of the Glenfiddich championship and retired director of the national piping Centre in Glasgow (Scotland). Then later on they both played a few tunes on their bagpipes from which I learnt a lot about their techniques and what it takes to be the best. That evening we had a rehearsal for the street parade with the military brass band which was an experience in itself.
On Friday we boarded a catamaran with all the boys and teachers and set sail for a fantastic day out, hopping in and out seeing shipwrecks and swimming with the turtles. Later on, that day the boys were asked to hoist up the sail whilst I played a solo Flower of Scotland in the wind nearly falling over a couple of times, but the experience was once in a lifetime bearing in mind Roddy MacLeod, Connor Sinclair, Kyle Howie (one of my piping teachers with some of the fastest if not the fastest piping fingers on the planet), Craig Muirhead (also one of my piping teachers a very experienced piper) and josh Fraser (yet another piping teacher and three time world champion with Johnstone pipe band), all watching me play!
This again helped me to play with a lot of pressure on me and in an unexpected environment. On that same evening we performed at the Odyssey concert at St Patrick’s cathedral that we had rehearsed for on the Tuesday evening. On Saturday we performed in the massed pipe band parade with another pipe band from Sweden and one from England as well as the Bagian brass band. This gave me a taste of what it was like to march in the heat for a while whilst playing my pipes and keep marching correctly as I was in the front rank with one of my pipe band pals Harry Turner and of course Roddy MacLeod leading the march passed/parade.
Later that day we performed all around a pub named Blakey’s. Sunday (the last full day) we played as a pipe band by the coast where the surfing championships are normally held. I played a solo Gordon Duncan tune with the coast and the rough Atlantic Ocean in the background to end the trip and bring part of him to Barbados.
I again would like to thank you for all your help and support to get me onto this tour/trip with the Strathallan Pipe band and help me to broaden my perspectives on the limitless opportunities that piping will bring me in the near future.
Thanks to the Gordon Duncan Memorial Trust, I have been able to get piping tuition with Dan Nevans from the National Piping Centre the last six months. Developing my musical capabilities and understanding has been quite a journey. Hearing the progression in my playing, the result of my lessons and practice has been surreal. Opening so many doors to new opportunities, and shutting the ones to old bad habits (or at least a lot of them).
Meeting Dan at a Highland Games made me realise what proper piping sounded like and immediately after the competition was finished my mum booked a block of lessons. However the NPC lessons are more expensive so money was tight to afford weekly 50 minute sessions, what I required to progress.
With the cost of living crisis, the probability of continuing with Dan seemed slimmer by the week. I had heard about the GDMT as Gordon is one of my biggest inspirations. His albums motivate me to push myself, he has shown me more from recordings than I could have ever thought anyone could. I would love to think that performing his pieces is keeping part of him alive and continuing the legend’s legacy. Such as when I played in Usher Hall with the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland and again in Dunning, Perthshire, with Ross Ainslie and Tim Edey. And you’ll never catch me out busking without slipping in one of his tunes!
Although I’m not the same as other pipers since I’m in a wheelchair and use my hands reversed due to chronic pain, I feel that I have found acceptance within the community. Networking with fellow musicians from all across the world is something I’d be lost without.
Thank you GDMT for making this possible.
The Vale of Atholl Pipers Association SCIO
Many thanks for supporting the Vale’s junior tuition programme. Your award has helped the Association to continue to provide tuition and support for our young learners; this not only offers the chance for our young pipers and drummers to learn their instruments, but also gives many of them with opportunities that are not available at school. They form the life blood of the various Vale pipe bands – feeding into the social band and then on to the more senior competition bands in grades 3 and 4. We really appreciate your support and funding!