The Society’s annual teaching weekend at Melrose this year featured ‘tunes from around the world’. Here the organizer, George Greig, describes the event and introduces another forthcoming LBPS publication

In the last weekend of February, the Society held its Teaching Weekend in the George and Abbotsford Hotel in Melrose. We were fortunate to have three excellent tutors, Annie Grace, Gary West and Iain MacInnes and the weekend was every bit as good as was to be expected with this fantastic line-up.
The theme for the weekend was ‘Tunes from Around the World’ and we were treated to a range of great new tunes with an emphasis on those from Galicia and from Brittany. Among the tunes which Gary taught were the ones which are to be heard on the web-site while Annie introduced three An Dro which she had learned while touring in Brittany. Iain managed to include some variety with tunes from older manuscripts including Angus MacKay and Eliza Ross – presumably she of ‘Eliza Ross’s Reel’.

Common Stock invited two particular pipers who attended  to comment on their weekend. Bjorn was visiting from Denmark, and Shonagh was probably the first school student to take part in the Melrose event.
“Thanks for a great weekend at Melrose, I'm happy that I went to this teaching weekend for some new inspiration and to meet other pipers. The surroundings for the event were nice with the old hotel with lots of atmosphere. “ (Bjorn W-Wissing)
“This was my first experience of attending a weekend session with the Society, and it definitely will not be the last! I had a phenomenal time, learning new tunes and playing along with some incredible musicians.
I have been a Highland Piper for five and a half years now. I became interested in Border Pipes through Duns Pipe Band, as I attend the Merse Pipers meetings that Duns Pipe Band holds. Jim Eaten played his Border Pipes about 3 years ago at one of the many meetings, and I loved the folky sound of them. So I nagged my parents week after week until they got me a set made by Nigel Richards. From the day I got them, I have loved them every second!
The Lowland and Border Pipers’ Society weekend session was a great experience as it increased my confidence in playing and helped me enjoy tunes that I hadn’t heard before.”                        ( Shonagh Graham)
By common consent, the tune of the weekend was ‘Paulo’s Waltz’ which Annie taught. This lovely tune was written in memory of someone who slept rough on the streets of Antwerp. The weekend finished up with a concert in which the tutors and the pupils each did their ‘party pieces’ and concluded by everyone playing ‘Paulo’s Waltz’.
New Tune Book
The theme of ‘Tunes from Around the World’ is being carried over to a new book which it is hoped will be published by the time this issue of Common Stock is published. The Society has been holding teaching weekends at Melrose for some fifteen years and some of the tunes taught there form the basis for this book, hence its title ‘A New Way to Melrose’. Since the Highland and the Border repertoires are well represented in current publications, they are excluded from the scope of this book. What the book does is present tunes from Scandinavia and Shetland, from Quebec and Galicia, from Brittany and a whole lot more. And, yes, it does include ‘Paulo’s Waltz’.
In all, the book contains 142 tunes arranged for Scottish Smallpipes and Border pipes. Some of the tunes came ‘as is’, some required only a change of key, while some others called for a bit more arrangement to get them to fit the restricted scale. In the latter case, there is no suggestion that they should be played along side the traditional versions (it will only end in tears). They are what is best thought as ‘performing versions’ which it is hoped remain faithful to the traditional material.
The fact that exciting bands such as the Chieftains, Daimh and Lunasa are playing Breton and Galician tunes and Milladoiro and Luar Na Lubre are playing tunes from these shores shows that many of these tunes do travel, in both directions, and can survive the changes made along the way. It is a large collection, approximately 60 pages of A4, and I am sure that ‘cauld wind’ pipers will find much to enjoy. It is available from the lbps website. I fully expect that some folk will say ‘why did you not include ……?’ If that is the case, I would ask that people send me the ‘missing’ tunes and if there is sufficient response we might have the basis for a further book.
My thanks are due particularly to all the tutors who provided the inspiration for this book and made the teaching weekends such fun.