Tartan Talk Andrew Cromie Tel:028 3839 5596 tartantalk@newsletter.co.uk

THIEPVAL Memorial Pipe Band, from Co Donegal, is hosting its annual concert next week and they have got a top show on offer.

This year the concert features the talents of Fred Morrison and Matheu Watson – Mesmerising pipes, whistles and guitar – on Friday, February 22, 2013 at 8pm in Jacksons Hotel, Ballybofey, Co Donegal. Compere for the evening is Robert Ramsay and also appearing will be Trevor Loughrey. Tickets for the event, including supper and draw, are priced e10/£8. Email pamelabuchanan72@ gmail.com or thiepvalmemorialpipeband@ hotmail.com for tickets or further information.

Next Saturday (23rd February) Fred Morrison and Matheu Watson will host a workshop entitled “Music for All” in conjunction with tutors from the Thiepval Memorial band.

The workshop is free and open to everyone. Also in attendance will be Ian Burrows and Brian Stafford who will be presenting the “Pipes of Peace” Workshop.

With contributions from local Irish traditional musicians there will be something to suit everyone’s musical tastes. The workshop starts at 10.30am and will end at 4pm. Lunch and light refreshments will be provided.

There can be little doubt that piping and drumming tuition in Northern Ireland is continuing to grow in popularity.

Winston Pollock, principal of Northern Ireland Branch School, has provided a report on its progress over the past 18 months which has seen an increase in enrolment figures and courses offered.

The NI Branch School has in excess of four hundred and forty students enrolled in the school’s education programme. The teaching of music theory and practice is in the very capable hands of fifty qualified instructors based in six Centres of Excellence covering the province.

Pipers, bass and tenor drummers, snare drummers and drum majors, whether beginner or experienced are discovering that becoming an independent learner is not only the best way forward but the learning process is very enjoyable. There are a number of reasons for the surge in interest and the continuing growth of student enrolment.

Winston explained: “Firstly a relevant, accredited syllabus which provides the appropriate pace and progression in the learning of musical theory and practice. Individual student needs are given a high priority by school staff. After an initial foundation course, targeting especially the large increase in newcomers, students may study the Piping and Drumming Qualification Board’s Levels 1 – 6. A national certificate is awarded to all successful examination candidates by the Scottish Qualifications Authority.

Secondly the contemporary yet proven teaching methods which are being deployed by the instructors have brought clarity and consolidation to students’ study of their chosen hobby. This coupled with an inbuilt flexibility has enabled each instructor to cater for different learning styles of students and has significantly raised standards in the relatively short time of just over a year and a half. In this renewal period all teaching staff have undergone regular in-service training in order to keep abreast of updated teaching methods.

“Thirdly the awareness raising which has been the most significant outcome of the Ulster Scots Agency’s “Day Schools’ Programme” has most definitely alerted the attention of a majority of the newcomers to the curriculum offered by the Branch School.

“Yes, the level of interest and participation of the newcomer has not been so high for a very long time and at this rate of development within the School it would appear that the natural next step may well be the formation of juvenile bands. Such groups would permit young people to gather further playing experience while performing together within their age group. Furthermore any pipe band, competing or otherwise, with a vision for the future would be wise to consider how best to support the Branch School initiatives.”

Certainly encouraging news on the education front and I’m sure we will see further developments in the years ahead.

Solo pipers and drummers will be getting ready for a few events that are taking place over the coming weeks.

The Cullybackey Solos will be held on Saturday 6th April and entry forms will be available later in the month.

A feature of this year’s competition will be Tenor Drumming Contests. The Judge will be Fiona Wilson from the Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band.

Please contact Nicole Adair via facebook or by email to cullybackeypb@googlemail.com for details.

Meanwhile, the entry form and syllabus information for Ulster Solos is now available on the RSPBANI website - www.rspbani.org.

Mervyn Herron tells me that all competitors should note that late entries and no entry accepted without payments.

Garvetagh Orange Hall in West Tyrone was filled to capacity for the annual “Burns Supper” under the auspices of Garvetagh Pipe Band where the guests celebrated the immortal memory of one of Scotland’s most famous sons, Robert [Rabbie] Burns, the Ayrshire ploughman, turned poet.

The band chairman James Emery welcomed the guests and Pipe Major Bert Waugh piped in the haggis which was duly addressed by Alastair Patterson, the vice-chairman.

The thanks was recited in the famous words of the “Selkirk Grace” by Mr. Herbert Young the band chaplain, followed by a three course meal of haggis,neeps and tatties, trifle, tea and shortbread. Mr Emery proposed the toast to Burns and Mr Patterson proposed the toast to the lassies, which included the excellent hospitality of the local ladies.

Afterwards entertainment was provided by the pipes and drum trio of Bert Waugh, Gordon Catterson and Victoria Catterson members of Tullywhisker “Border Guards” Pipe Band.

Further entertainment was enjoyed by the audience as the 1147’ers from Bloomhill in East Tyrone, a combined quartet of flute, accordian, bass drum, guitar and organ group played a variety of gospel, Scottish and Irish melodies. The evening concluded with the singing of “Auld Lang Syne.”