The Scottish Government is preparing COVID-19 guidance relating to music organisations in Scotland, including pipe bands.

Guidance was issued on Monday (24th) that pertained to those working in Scotland’s performing arts and those in formal training for associated professional careers. This guidance relates to rehearsal, recording, broadcast, pre-production, creative-learning related activities and performances without an audiences.

However, it remains the case that performing arts venues still cannot open to the public for live performances with an audience. The guidance is relevant to those planning an outdoor performance.

Fiona Hyslop.

Fiona Hyslop, the Scottish Government’s Economy Secretary, said: “Because of the particular concerns relating to aerosol transmission, a cautious approach to the playing of wind and brass instruments, including bagpipes, is required and this will be reflected in the guidance. Research into this transmission risk is ongoing and will continue to inform decisions and guidance.

“… Amateur music organisations, and the talented individuals who work with them, are an essential part of the fabric of Scotland’s culture and communities and promote our international reputation, and the Scottish Government is determined that they will survive and be able to thrive again.”

The updated guidance is expected within the next few days. It will be accessible HERE.

* The National Piping Centre is in the initial stages of commissioning a scientific study into the effects of playing bagpipes in relation to aerosol and droplet emission. This is essential research which will allow decisions to be made on how to move forward as safely as possible. So far, there have been tentative scientific studies into how the virus relates to other musical instruments, e.g. vuvuzela, trombone, clarinet and choirs etc, but none on the great highland bagpipe.

A documentary has been made about Simon Fraser University Pipe Band’s 1995 World Championship win, their first victory at the Worlds, having been placed second on three occasions. It was the second time with title went to a Canadian band, the 78th fraser Highlanders being the first in 1987.

L-R: Pipe Sergeant Jack Lee, Leading Drummer John Reid Maxwell and Pipe Major Terry Lee shortly after SFU’s 1995 win.

The tunes played by SFU in its medley were: Tom Wilson, Mrs Sharon Duthart, The Hag at the Churn, Scatter the Mud, Our Ain Fireside, MacBeth’s Strathspey, T. Bowen’s Reel and Back of the Moon. In the MSR, the band played Lord Alexander Kennedy, Caledonian Society of London and John MacKechnie.

Thirty bands had entered Grade 1 that year: 14 were bands based in Scotland, six in Ireland, five in Canada, two in New Zealand, two in Australia and one in South Africa.

A seeding system was in operation for the first time which saw bands compete in reverse order of the result of the previous major championship, with bands that didn’t play slotted into the draw. Thus, the order of play was based on the results of the Scottish Championships held in Stirling in June. SFU competed at the ‘Scottish’ that year and won in the pouring rain.

SFU Pipe Band, 1995 World Champions.

The 1995 Worlds that year was held at Scotstoun Showground, an athletics and rugby union stadium in the west end of Glasgow. The conditions at the venue proved unsatisfactory and were described on BBC Radio Scotland’s piping programme as “diabolic”.

The bands assembed for the finale at 4.30pm and it was almost 7.00pm when they were able to leave the field.

Watch the ‘mini-documentary here.