Pupils in Larkhall can march to musical success thanks to funding for piping and drumming tuition from the Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust (SSPDT).

£30,000 has been secured from the music charity to continue piping and drumming tuition for over 120 pupils at Larkhall Academy and associated primary schools; Craigbank, Dalserf, Glengowan, Hareleeshill, Machanhill, Netherburn, Newfield, Robert Smillie, Stonehouse and St Mary’s.

•Larkhall piping and drumming pupils, with their Piping Instructor Darren Sommerville on the right.

The news is a welcome boost as Scotland’s musical education landscape faces a host of challenges with instrumental music under threat in schools in other parts of the country.

The tuition programme, which is managed by the Larkhall Youth Pipes and Drums voluntary committee, was established in 2019 and has relied on charitable donations and grants to keep tuition and weekly band practice going. 

Margaret Agnew, Chairperson of Larkhall Youth Pipes and Drums (LYPD) said: “The committee would like to thank the SSPDT, the William Grant Foundation and the Regeneration Fund for the financial support they’ve given to help set up this programme for children who wouldn’t have had the opportunity to learn to play the pipes and drums. Our two tutors Darren Sommerville (pipes) and Stephen Burns (drums) have been with the project since the beginning and are doing an excellent job.”

“This funding boost will help drive the programme forward into its next phase; working in partnership with the SSPDT, Larkhall Academy, and the surrounding primary schools, and interacting more widely with the local community.”

Andy Smith, Larkhall Academy Head Teacher said: “Larkhall Academy is delighted to extend its partnership with LYPD and the SSPDT.  We have significant numbers of young people involved in this project and we were delighted to see the first appearance of the band at a national competition earlier this year.  We are acutely aware of the benefits for young people who play together in a band: teamwork, resilience and disciplined regular practice are just some of the transferable skills gained and these will help in academic study and future careers.”

Darren Sommerville, Piping Tutor said: “Since starting this project it has been hugely popular, with over 120 pupils currently learning piping or drumming in the Larkhall area.  I am delighted that the future looks bright with this funding boost.  The programme not only ensures a platform of development for our young people to thrive socially and mentally, performing in our local community and in competition, but also academically as we continue to present candidates for SQA and NPA exams.” 

“We are extremely grateful to the SSPDT and Larkhall Academy for their efforts in helping sustain this project long term.”

Alexandra Duncan, SSPDT Chief Executive said: “The Trust is delighted to support this programme that benefits schools, pupils and the whole community. Providing pupils in Larkhall’s schools the opportunity to learn the pipes and drums will help develop confidence, friendships, self-esteem and other attributes for life, learning and work.”

The SSPDT also loans bagpipes to LYPD, as part of the charity’s national Bagpipe Lending Scheme. 

The SSPDT is the national charity that works to introduce piping and drumming tuition to state schools in Scotland and that encourages the formation of schools pipe bands.  

For more information about how SSPDT can support your school or community, please visit www.sspdt.org.uk.  Enquiries from teachers, parents and community groups are welcome at info@sspdt.org.uk