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Neil Corbett writes about the Summer School. Anita Evans provided the pics.

Once again I had a great time at the LBPS summer school although this year the format was just the same as, but totally different from, last year. I suppose I ought to explain.

Many familiar faces from previous years were in evidence along with some new recruits, and the group work (Ian MacInness taking the “top” class and Jock Agnew with the improv- ers) was pretty much as before. No complaints here since it works well, and in my group (the improvers) we all got excellent value from Jock and mutual encouragement, and some- times sympathy, from each other. The general camaraderie amongst the group is part of what makes the week so special.

There being no absolute beginners this year, we could all play some tunes after a fashion, but it was interesting to note how much Jock could get us to improve through attention to simple basic things like bellows technique, drone tuning, and so on. Although we all had different problems. I can safely say that each of us came away with vital personal discover- ies that helped our playing. By the end of the week we were doing some passable two part pieces, together and in tune! Thus far then, the tried and trusted formula and a comforting familiarilv. So what about the changes?

Well, the biggest of these was that the summer school is now part of a larger event, the Common Ground workshop week. There are about a hundred “students” including about 15 of us pipers, and a wide range of instrumental vocal, (and non-musical) tuition. The core morning sessions were booked at the start of the week, but afternoons were more flexible.

Workshops were open to all, and at any level, so if you wanted to play pipes in the morning and bouzouki in the afternoon, that was fine. In the event the pipers tended mostly to stick



to piping all day, but that was from choice.

Each evening there was a concert provided largely by the expert tutors, who were mostly professional performers of some repute, so the concerts were all excellent. Following the concert there would then be open sessions for all instruments and singers, gently supervised by a session master Rick Lee, who kept order and ensured equal opportunities etc. The whole week had a strong feeling of family about it, encouraged I suppose by the fact that players were of all ages. Pipers with a non-piping partner could well get them to come along too to join in any of the other activities. Having heard my report, I’m pretty sure my other half will try to join me next year.

Then there was the new venue, the Scottish Agricultural College campus at Auchincruive near Ayr. An extremely pleasant spot with acres and acres of parkland and gardens adjacent to a typical, wide, shallow and rocky Scottish river. The estate was formerly the family home of local gentry, and the main building Oswald Hall, which housed the classes and concerts, was a suitably grand affair. Also on site was a very good camping field, a sizeable refectory which provided the mid day and evening meals, and a small shop for all the odds and ends you might need. The accommodation should have been there too, but owing to a double booking mix up, people were housed offsite.


We are promised that next year, accommodation will be onsite. I was camping and didn’t need (or want) to leave the campus for the whole week. All in all it’s a very pleasant and re- laxing environment.

The last difference from the previous year was the weather! Warm and sunny all week with the merest of showers on Friday morning.

As usual we were asked at the end to compete an evaluation sheet with suggestions as to what could be improved. Our group struggled to find anything that didn’t seem nit-picking. Maybe a bit more ventilation in the room, or cheaper coffee at break time. That was about it.

In retrospect, there is one significant thing I would try to improve next year, and that is the integration of the pipers with the rest of the attendees. Because we were “roomed” sensibly out of earshot of the other classes, we didn’t mingle as much as we might have, and there was hardly any piping in evening sessions. Next year we ought to put ourselves about a bit - we’d probably end up with new recruits!

All in all, I thought the week was even better than last year. I had a fabulous time and can’t wait to return next year [2005], See you there I hope.




From Lewis Cameron Monifieth

While I agree with much of what John Dally says about Rory Campbell’s won- derful piping (Reviews - Third Grand Concert of Piping - Common Stock Vol 19 No. 1, June 2004), the comparison with ‘any pipe band corps’ is unfair and uncalled for and certainly could not stand against the top pipe band ensembles on the world stage.


Some pipers may not like the pipe band tradition, and even less so pipe band drum- ming, but the latter is one of the most highly developed forms of percussion. One only has to reflect on the mundane performances of the drummer doing his solo within the big band gig of the 40’s 50’s and 60’s, or listen to the loud monotony of percussion in the context of pop.




Sandy’s tune title refers to the mix of pipers at the London meetings, where the London Scottish pipe band has its practice and where the players of smallpipes and Border pipes gather - all in the same building and on the same evening!