Warning bagpipers could become extinct

A pro-independence campaigner in Edinburgh's Craigmillar estate in September. Picture: Neil Hanna

A pro-independence campaigner in Edinburgh's Craigmillar estate in September. Picture: Neil Hanna

Share this article
Have your say

SCOTLAND’S NATIONAL instrument - the bagpipes - are in danger of extinction, according to piping enthusiasts who are campaigning for more tuition in state schools.

The iconic site and sound of bagpipers is “under threat” as schools in Scotland do not offer tuition to learn how to play the instrument, it was claimed today.

David Johnston, Championships Convenor for the Scottish Schools Pipe Band, says the world famous tradition of singing to Auld Lang Syne at midnight on Hogmany could become a thing of the past - unless more is done to increase the number of opportunities for state school pupils to learn how to play the pipes and drums.

Mr Johnston said today: “The future of our national instrument is under threat because of the inability of most of Scotland’s councils to offer lessons in their schools.

“Some say there is no money for it, some say there is no demand. Yet where we have helped schools get tuition the demand is huge - and if a council can afford a glockenspiel teacher, surely they can afford to teach pipes and drums.

“In several schools across Scotland, parent councils have had to resort to take their own action to set up after school clubs and bring in teachers at their own expense to offer tutoring to their children.

“I find it disappointing that in so many Scottish state schools piping and drumming is not on the curriculum - yet many private schools have flourishing bands and dedicated pipe tutors which bring huge prestige and self-esteem to band members and to the school.

“If this worrying trend continues we won’t have any future pipers and drummers and hearing the roar of pipes and drums on Hogmanay could become a thing of the past.”


Councils in areas such as the Highlands and Argyll and Bute are known to have a significantly larger portion of their students playing the pipes and drums whilst in school than in other areas.

However, in the largest Scottish cities, there are only a handful of pupils playing the pipes and drums and in some council areas, there are no students playing these instruments all.

The Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships - the world’s biggest schools piping competition - is looking to change this by hosting a unique competition which looks to celebrate the pipes and drums and encourage their growth in schools throughout Scotland.

Back to the top of the page