By Wilson Brown • May 25-28, 2023.

Despite cancelled flights, delayed flight arrivals, severe floods, lost baggage (Bologna), lost baggage again (Glasgow), the 2023 Italian Spring School proved to be a huge success.

This year’s school was held in Misano Adriatico, a small seaside town near to Rimini on the Adriatic coast. The venue was a small family run hotel, Alba Serena Hotel, situated 50 metres from the beach. This proved to be an excellent venue for teaching facilities, accommodation and fantastic food.

•Misano Adriatico.
•Wilson and Finlay.

This year I was accompanied by Director of Piping, Finlay MacDonald and we were joined on the teaching staff by Italian piping legend, Alberto Massi. We were also fortunate to call on the services of Chiara, Roberto and Giancarlo to augment the teaching staff, all three having successfully gained their PDQB Tutor’s certificates at last year’s school.

The school kicked off on Thursday morning with seven students sitting their PDQB theory examinations, levels 3-7. Following an excellent lunch, accompanied by some light refreshments, the 22 students were divided into four groups based on their abilities and we enjoyed an afternoon of lessons and workshops. Unfortunately, six students couldn’t make the school as their homes had been devastated by the severe floods Italy had experienced on the days leading up to the school. Our thoughts are with them and their families as they try to recover from the significant damage caused.

At the conclusion of the day’s lessons the students made their way down to the beachfront where they entertained the locals to a varied programme of music. This was a fantastic setting on this very popular beachfront, with the weather similar to what Scotland is experiencing at the moment, not often we can say that!!

After a four course Italian feast we all settled down to an evening of songs and tunes, with fiddles, guitars and whistles to the fore, all under the warm Italian night air.

The next three days followed a similar pattern with group lessons and workshops, working hard on developing the students’ bagpipes and tuning and also expanding their repertoire.

Following on from last year’s three students gaining their Tutor’s certificates, Umberto Rossi and Mosè Giaretta both registered for this examination. Each candidate has to submit written records of 20 hours of lessons they have delivered. Thereafter, they are assessed whilst conducting an individual lesson, a group lesson, a piobaireachd lesson and finally a one hour workshop. Both candidates displayed the necessary qualities and skills required and were subsequently informed they had passed and were presented with their Tutors Certificates on the final day. This examination requires commitment and dedication and both candidates fully deserved their award.

•Umberto Rossi and Mosè Giaretta with Finlay, Wilson and Alberto.

On the final day, we gathered for our farewell meal where Finlay thanked all concerned for making the school a tremendous success, full of great memories. All students were presented with certificates to recognise their efforts during the school. Two additional awards were given to students who had been identified by the teaching staff. Silvia Cuccarolo was awarded the ‘Most Dedicated’ and Lorenzo Rossi the ‘Most Improved’.  Both students received piping books and invitations to attend an Adult Gathering either in person or online.

•Silvia Cuccarolo with Finlay, Wilson and Alberto.
•Lorenzo Rossi with Finlay, Wilson and Alberto.

A special mention to 10 year old Emily Aaronson who was attending her second Italian school. Last year she obtained her Level 2 PDQB certificate and this year she sat her level 3 examination. Not only is she a promising piper but she and her dad Barak entertained us with their fiddle playing, a talented family. She even managed to assist Finlay by tuning his pipes!

•Emily Aaronson with Finlay, Wilson and Alberto.

And so another Italian School was over, thanks to Raffaele Depaola and the committee of the Italian Pipers and Drummers Association for all their hard work in arranging the school. The National Piping Centre looks forward to continuing working in partnership with them to organise piping schools in the future.

•Raffaele Depaola with Finlay, Wilson and Alberto.