The Castle Pipers achieve top marks in Scottish Bagpipe Qualifications

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Germany’s Castle Pipers have reached a significant milestone in their piping journey, with ten members of their pipe band recently achieving top marks in their SCQF Grade 2 and 4 Scottish Bagpipes examinations thanks to an innovative collaboration with Strathallan School.

Under the expert tutelage of Strathallan School Pipe Major Josh Fraser, part of the School’s Department of Traditional Music and Scottish Culture, the Castle Pipers dedicated themselves to ten weekends of online study and two intensive weekends of in-person training, culminating in ten members receiving top marks in their grades earlier this month.

•The Castle Pipers on exam day. Photo: Castle Pipers

Reflecting on the journey, Josh said: “I am extremely proud of all of the students from The Castle Pipers who successfully passed their PDQB assessments. It has been an amazing experience teaching this qualification to such a determined and enthusiastic group of people.

“It is amazing that we have managed to build such a great connection with a pipe band in Germany and help them learn more about our national instrument. Thank you to Thomas Zöller and The National Piping Centre for their help facilitating the examinations and thank you to Lothar and Barbara Beckers for helping to bring this partnership together. We are looking forward to many more exciting opportunities with The Castle Pipers.”

Set at SCQF levels 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, the National Progression Award (NPA) in Scottish Bagpipes provides a progression route for candidates who are learning to play the bagpipes, taking them from beginner stages to an advanced level. This practical-based qualification covers the knowledge pipers need for performing in Scottish pipe bands and offers a consistent approach to the study of bagpipes in Scotland and internationally.

Barbara Beckers-Lingener, who achieved Level 4 alongside her husband Dr Lothar Beckers, said the for a large part of the band they are probably the first pipers in Germany, especially the western part of the country, to achieve the qualification and it sets a high-quality standard for the growing Castle Pipers band, already well respected in Germany and internationally.

Speaking of their success, Barbara said: “We as a band are incredibly proud to have the opportunity to develop our bagpiping skills with the SCQF exams, initiated by Constantin who joined Strathallan School in 2022. We have thoroughly enjoyed the time we have spent with Josh Fraser, who has supported us both as a friend and a teacher. We believe that with the standard of bagpiping we have achieved, we are now able to perform our repertoire with even more professionalism and confidence, from small family gigs to large stages. We now look forward to maintaining the strong partnership between the Castle Pipers and Strathallan School.”

You can read more about Strathallan School and the school pipe band activities at the bottom of this webpage — https://www.strathallan.co.uk/arts-culture