Ryan Wang is 18 year old student on the National Piping Centre’s HNC/D piping course and has a busy young life juggling his studies with his commitments to his pipe band, his martial art and working in his parents’ Chinese restaurant in Clydebank. He was born in Glasgow and attended St Saviour’s Primary school in Govan and this is where he was introduced to piping.  

Iain Watson and Iain MacPherson started the Govan Schools and Community Pipe Band project in 2013, and both were pipers with Strathclyde Police Pipe Band at the time.  Ryan began group lessons with them in 2017 when he was in Primary 7 at St Saviour’s and has been with the project ever since. It is now grown to become the Govan Community Pipe Band, with Ryan as Pipe Sergeant and led by another long time student, Pipe Major Thomas Rankin.  

The band competed for the first time in Grade 4B in 2022, the first season after lockdown, and did very well winning the Scottish Pipe Band Championship.  Their high point in 2023 was coming fourth at the Worlds in Grade 4B.  The band have a mix of generations with mostly younger players, but some older, and are always on the look out for more. They practise on a Monday and Wednesday at St Constantine’s Church Hall in Govan.  

•Ryan at the World Pipe Band Championships in 2023.

The band are benefiting from the legacy of Iain Watson’s and Iain MacPherson’s work to establish piping in Govan, and they also wear the old Royal Stewart tartan kilts passed down from the former Strathclyde Police Pipe Band. 

•The Govan Community Pipe Band show of their trophies from Ardrossan Highland Games in 2023.

Ryan knew he wanted to take his piping further and it was careers’ advice at school that led him to the HNC/D Piping Course.  He joined the HNC/D course in September 2023 and he receives tuition on light music from Margaret Houlihan and piobaireachd lessons from Andrew Bova.  Ryan has not yet competed in solo competition, but he is being encouraged in that direction from his tutors.  Ryan added: “The lessons from Margaret and Andrew help my finger technique and how to understand the structure of a tune.  That information helps me to teach some of the members of the Govan Community Pipe Band.”

Ryan other passion is Taekwon-Do, which first started when watching Jackie Chan movies as a youngster. He began Taekwon-Do lessons in 2016, about a year before he started piping lessons.  He attends group classes in Glasgow and East Renfrewshire with his Instructor Chris Scott who is a 4th degree black belt.  Ryan explained: “Since I stared as a white belt (10th Kup) I’ve worked my way up to black tag (1st Kup), then in order to do your black belt pre-test and promotion, you need a minimum of six months of training and a minimum of six black belt training sessions which specialise in training to achieve the black belt. And I achieved that last year on Dec 17.”

•Ryan as a beginner and as a black belt with his instructor Chris Scott.

“I first took part in Taekwon-Do competitions in 2019 and won a silver and bronze in my first competition, and then two gold medals in my second competition.  I won a gold medal at the World ITF Taekwon-Do Championships in 2019 for sparring at blue belt level. There is contact allowed when sparring with an opponent in competitions, but it is only light contact at a junior level.

“Before and after lockdown I was training five days a week, but that changed for various reasons and I had to take a break in 2022.  I only went back to training in September 2023 and worked from black tag to level up to a black belt. To allow me to achieve my black belt second dan I would need to put in 18 months of technique practice, but with my piping course work, and the time spent working in my dad’s restaurant I really don’t have much free time in my week.”

•Ryan recently won two gold medals in his first competition as a black belt.

After the two years on the HNC/D course Ryan plans to apply for the BMus Traditional Music – Piping degree at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.  He has a busy young life and has already achieved a lot, and I’m sure the discipline he has learned in the pipe band hall and in the Taekwon-Do Dojang will take him far.

•The HND Music – Piping at the National Piping Centre is currently accepting applications for applicants wishing to begin their studies in September 2024. Further information can be found at https://www.thepipingcentre.co.uk/learn