Published: 18/03/2017 11:30 - Updated: 17/03/2017 12:38

Gairloch musicians drum up historic pipe band victory

Gairloch High School pupils, along with teacher Emma Smith, who competed at the championships
Gairloch High School pupils, along with teacher Emma Smith, who competed at the championships

A team of young musicians from Gairloch High School came away with their first competition win last weekend by taking first place in the Debut B competition at the Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships in Edinburgh. 

The Championships were established in 2013 with the main aims of encouraging the formation of new schools pipe bands, celebrating Scotland’s musical tradition and the talent of young people.

Pipers and drummers, led by S6 pupil Fraser Wotherspoon, played two marches in front of a panel of expert judges who granted them unanimous first place across both piping and drumming.

This result comes after much hard work and practice from the pupils who range from P6-S6. Competition is only one element of what the band do and they spend much of their year being seen around Gairloch playing for the community at events and ceilidhs. 

Gairloch was also the only school from the Highlands to enter the Freestyle category, which aims to showcase the versatility of the pipes and drums alongside other instruments.

Three pipers and two drummers joined with senior members of the school's folk group C for Craic to work on an arrangement of two pieces - Lullaby for Mel and Jig Runrig.

Accordionist and S6 pupil Alasdair MacDonald led the way and his arrangement in particular was highlighted by the judges, including Phil Cunningham and the BBC's Gary West, as being excellent with the skilful use of time signatures and the inclusion of a wide variety of traditional instruments.

Although the Freestyle group didn't take home any of the prizes this year, the precedent has been set for the next set of pupils to get together to bring traditional Scottish music from the North-West Highlands to the annual competition. 

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