By Wilson Brown
The National Piping Centre (NPC), in partnership with the Italian Pipers’ Association (A.P.I.), recently organised another successful Spring School at the end of April. Thirty-two pipers from Italy, Austria and France enjoyed four days of tuition, workshops, recitals and socialising in the beachfront location in Calambrone, near Pisa. Roddy MacLeod and I were from joined by Italian piping legend, Alberto Massi at the Regina Mundi Holiday House, which provided excellent facilities for all of the activities.
Roddy and I arrived on the Wednesday night and met with, Mose Giaretta one of the organisers, in nearby Pisa. We discussed the format of the course and how the pipers should be divided into appropriate groups based on their piping ability. The NPC enjoys a great relationship with Italian pipers and, indeed, Mose has been a regular visitor to Scotland and to the NPC where he has studied and gained a number of PDQB qualifications. This was a thoroughly enjoyable evening and set the tone for the coming days.
The students worked in groups learning new tunes selected from the NPC Italian Spring School Book, which contains a wide variety of tunes to suit all levels. Workshops were delivered on Maintenance, Technique, Piobaireachd and Pipe Band skills.
A number of the Italian pipers were keen to sit their PDQB examinations in Levels 4, 5 and 6. It was clear that they all were very prepared for the examinations and performed well under examination conditions. The PDQB qualifications have been very well supported by the Italian pipers in recent years and they rightly see the qualifications as an excellent way to monitor and track their progress.
It wasn’t only hard work and study with students and instructors enjoying the social aspect of the school. With good food, wine and song this is a school not to be missed. The hospitality, friendship and enjoyment of the bagpipes was evident and resulted in the playing of the pipes into the early hours of the morning – the students not instructors, of course! …
The school was based on the coast and this allowed some band practises to be carried out on the beach where many passers-by enjoyed the sun setting to the sound of the pipes. The students gave a varied programme of music to their audience although marching on sand wasn’t that easy! I’m sure they would still have been playing their pipes on the beach if the sun hadn’t disappeared.
And so another Italian Spring School came to a close. Old friendships reinforced, new friendships made and piping knowledge and skills improved. I’d like to thank the Italian Piping Association for its hard work in organising the school. I look forward to seeing my Italian friends soon in Glasgow to further their piping development.