Scotland must do more to ensure its pipe bands thrive – Scotsman comment

There are few things more quintessentially Scottish than a pipe band.

Colinton and Currie Pipe Band leading the Armistice Day parade in Kirknewton in 2010 (Picture courtesy of Piping Press and Alistair Aitken)

So news that the Colinton and Currie Pipe Band has disbanded after finding it “increasingly difficult” to attract new members – particularly during the Covid pandemic – is most sad.

All the more so that it was one of the first civilian pipe bands in Scotland with an illustrious 134-year history stretching back to 1887.

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And Alistair Aitken, a stalwart of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association for many years, who played in the band, warned it may not be the only one to go out of existence. “The pandemic has finalised the band’s demise and unfortunately this may prove to be the start of a trend. Other bands may not survive these troubled times,” he said.

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However, if anyone thinks pipe bands are outdated, out-of-fashion and fated to slip into history, then a single video on YouTube provides more than 13,409,000 reasons why they are wrong. Filmed in August 2018, it shows several pipe bands parading through Ballater to open the town’s highland games and it has since amassed that many views, likely from all over the world. And while most of the bands were based in Scotland, one from Switzerland also took part.

Pipe bands in their full glory are an exhilarating sight and sound that gets the hairs on the necks of many people – from all over the world – rising. So Scotland should do everything it can to ensure that they not only survive but thrive and multiply.

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