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Hugh Tatton attended Ian Kinnear’s weekend smallpipes course at Glen Clova in Angus.

THE GLEN Clova Weekend 2005 was very enjoyable and also a wonderful learning experi- ence in the company of a diverse and interesting group of pipers. Held at the end of Septem- ber, this was the third such annual course, based at the Glen Clova Hotel in the beautiful setting of the Angus Glens, and the nine students were very well supported by Ian and his team.

The group had travelled from near and far, and only a few had previously met. Most but not all were customers of Ian Kinnear, the Forfar-based piper and pipemaker, with a range of his pipes in use. Some pipes and pipers showed more signs of age than others.

Glen Clova is a splendid setting for the course with a wide range of countryside activities catered for in stunning scenery. Ian even led a few brave souls out on to the hills to take full value from the location. The hotel is the natural focus for all visitors to the glen as well as the local community. The famous bunkhouse provides a social centre for the course with the group sessions being held in the Hotel. Breakfast and lunch in the relaxed bunkhouse at- mosphere were just as important social events as dinner and drinks later in the hotel itself.


Ian carefully selected a range of tunes, some rarely heard, and distributed the sheet music with a sound recording in advance of our arrival - there was much to be done in only two days. After a “settling in” session on Friday evening, two groups were formed on Saturday. Each group took on their own challenges, expertly led by Ian and Lee Moore.

Tuning, steady tone and group playing with harmonies filled most of the group sessions. Ian’s demonstration of manufacturing and adjusting reeds was a highlight of the weekend and a privilege to watch. The final achievement was a recording session with all pipers con- tributing and resulting in some very successful harmonies.

The hotel management were very encouraging and supportive of the course, and the other hotel customers seemed to appreciate our music too. The regular Glen Clova music session (first Saturday of the month) happened to coincide with the course, which resulted in some very skilled musicians playing a wide range of instruments, and we filled the room with music until very late (Sundays also start late in Glen Clova).

A simple question remains: why is there only one Glen Clova weekend each year? I can offer a possible answer: sadly there are only 365 days in a year and Ian has to keep up with his day job. As the course closed and we said our farewells there was a common theme to be heard: “See you next year!”.




The intemperate piper... An extract from the records of the Kirk Session of the Parish Church of Banff, April 5th, 1702: “An Act against pipers and promiscuous dancing was read and approved, and ordered to be intimate next Lords Day”.


The temperate piper... From the Kerry examiner, 4 April, 1843:

“Wanted by members of Scart- aglen Temperance Society, a man who can play the Scotch pipes. None but a teetotaller need apply.