Bjørn Wissing sends this report

About twenty pipers and three instructors were gathered at this year’s Teaching Weekend at Bridge of Allan, near Stirling. The tutors  were Finlay MacDonald, Iain MacInnes and Mike Katz
There was a good deal of focus on learning tunes by ear and some different techniques around this.
Iain taught some nice tunes and talked a little about Highland gracings versus the use of gracenotes on the smallpipe chanter. Particularly a couple of tunes we learned would be remarkably more close to border tune style by leaving out the tachums.
Finlay talked about ways to learn new tunes more easily. Some notes in a tune are important to catch and play right in the melody. He also talked about "Milestones" within the tune. The leading notes are of course also important, but they don't carry the tune. Using different leading notes in the beginning of learning a new tune is acceptable and at a later stage when it's done on purpose can give some nice possibilities for variation.
Mike taught solely by ear in a very efficient way, taking one phrase at a time with each person.  I guess this was a big challenge for some, but most of us managed to learn  and remember the tunes. We managed to play the tunes together after a relatively short period of time. The first tune was partly forgotten though once we were half the way through the next one. It was obviously an efficient way to learn the finger movements quickly and then it of course needed further practice to learn the tune thoroughly. Mike also suggested we try to realise what mode the part of the tune is in and then focus on the main tune notes and get those right first. Also singing the tune as well as playing it, makes it learning easier.
As usual there was a lively discussion about which tunes to be played on the bellows pipes. One opinion was that too few tunes are played from the Border repertoire and too many Highland tunes? I'm not trying to give any answer here, but if a tune has some nice melodic phrases and an interesting rhythm or both, does it then really matter in what tradition it has its origin?
The tunes or at least some of them we worked on learning in the group I was in were:
Lightly Swims the Swan by Phil Cunningham
Twelve Torlum by Duncan Johnstone
Kick the Rogues out
Follow Her O'er the Border
Borve Castle by Donald MacLeod
Three Good Fellows Beyond the Glenn - 9
Thug Mi Gaol - Gaelic Air
Sunset on the Somme by Pipe Major George S. McLennan
Bagad Kemper by Erwin Ropars
The Saturday evening dinner was nice. A remark I heard when we saw the table  was: "who's getting married, it looks like the table for a wedding". All together I found that it was a great weekend. And thanks to George Greig who did a good job organising it.
[Ed.: I attended this event for the first time for a few years. I should add to Bjørn’s report something that perhaps his group missed out on - Finlay’s brief workshop on taping all the holes on the chanter ready for on-the-spot tuning. In place of the usual after-dinner speaker  we had some remarkable music from the tutors.]

After-dinner music from the tutors [L to R Mike Katz, Iain MacInnes, Finlay MacDonald]