Alarm over shortage of bagpipe teachers

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SCOTS children will have to go to a private school if they want to learn the bagpipes, industry experts have warned.

A report by the National Piping Centre (NPC) revealed just 6.5 per cent of instruments in schools have a “traditional” Scottish background.

Bagpipes alone make up 4 per cent of this, with the remaining 2 per cent spread across fiddles, accordions and the clarsach, a Gaelic harp.

At the moment, about 20 per cent of school instruments are string-related, another 20 per cent are woodwind, such as clarinets, and 19 per cent are brass, such as trumpets.

The lack of lessons has been blamed on education bosses preferring to teach “middle-class” pupils contemporary instruments, like guitars and drums, with Edinburgh not having a single school bagpipe tutor.

There are now fears that unless traditional music classes are “more accessible”, hopefuls will have to pay privately to learn national instruments.

NPC principal Roddy Macleod said: “There is a severe lack of core provision of traditional music teaching in Scotland.

“We know from our experiences of making presentations to schoolchildren we get a tremendous response and interest in learning to play the pipes, but for most children in Scotland their school does not provide the opportunity.”

Mr Macleod said “It’s shocking to think that there is only one bagpipe teacher for every 10,000 children in secondary education in Scotland.

“The fact that the capital city doesn’t even employ one bagpipe instructor for the whole city means that kids in Edinburgh just don’t get the opportunity to learn the pipes, unless they go to a private school or pay for private lessons.”

Award-winning folk musician Karine Polwart said traditional music was under threat.

She said: “Traditional music is thriving, but it’s thriving among people with money.”