Return of the Italian Spring Piping School

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On Sunday May 1, National Piping Centre instructors Wilson Brown and Ailis Sutherland returned from Italy after spending four days teaching at the Italian Spring School. Due to Covid, this was the first time since 2019 that the NPC had been involved with this school.

The school was based on a beach front location in Calambrone, just outside Pisa in Italy. This year we welcomed 31 students who were divided into classes based on their level and received workshops and group classes delivered by the NPC instructors and Italian piping legend Alberto Massi.

•Wilson Brown, Ailis Sutherland and Alberto Massi present students with certificates of distinction and merit to recognise individual efforts during the spring school.

The instructors, who are both PDQB examination assessors, also conducted eight SQA examinations and three PDQB Tutor Examinations. The tutor examinations are particularly intensive with each student having to deliver four assessed lessons: workshop, individual, group and piobaireachd. They also had to submit lesson plans for each lesson and maintain and submit a lesson diary with at least 20 hours of lessons they have delivered previously.

The three students, Chiara, Roberto and Giancarlo were all successful in passing their examinations. One of the assessors, Wilson Brown, said: “All three students delivered their lessons and workshops to a high standard and I am confident they have the skills and knowledge necessary to assist Alberto in developing piping throughout Italy. We utilised their teaching skills with the novice class and it was clear that the students responded positively to their teaching styles.”

•Wilson Brown, Ailis Sutherland and Alberto Massi present the PDQB Tutor certificates to Roberto, Giancarlo and Chiara.
•Ailis Sutherland

As always the school provided a great blend of learning, fun and friendship. Each evening the pipers all made their way on to the beach and entertained the locals to some fine music as the sun began to set. Then it was on to dinner and evenings of informal piping, telling tales of past adventures and looking forward to future gatherings.

On the last evening, Wilson, Ailis and Alberto all played a few sets of tunes for the students, Ailis playing both Highland and smallpipes much to the delight of the students.

The three and half days had a very ambitious and demanding timetable however students and staff worked hard to ensure the school was a success. Whether that was passing an exam, picking up a couple of helpful tips or just having a good time with friends old and new, it was an opportunity to put the difficulties of recent times behind us and look forward with optimism to more events like this one.