Mainland China now has its first ever youth pipe band! 

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BY MATTHEW KIDD.

This young band is part of the Nord Anglia Chinese International School in Shanghai (NACIS) and is the first ever student pipe band formed in mainland China that we know of (Hong Kong has several bands, and Macao also has a university band). The NACIS band is based in the Minhang district of west Shanghai and is now performing across the city. 

Under the direction of myself, Pipe Major Matthew Kidd, (originally from Glasgow, tutored at the National Piping Centre, former member of the NYPBS and other bands, now a teacher at the NACIS school) and Pipe Sergeant Allan Price, the band currently comprises of 14 founding members aged between 8-15 years old – ten pipers and four drummers – with a structure in place to continue recruitment of new members going into next year’s school term. The band members began their journey in September 2023 when chanter lessons were first offered at the school. By February 2024, the students started their transition from practice chanters onto the pipes. 

The band’s maiden concert was for the school’s Graduation Ceremony, held three weeks ago to an audience of around 500 people, and their first public concert was held June 8 to an audience of more than 800 guests. It was a special concert combining pipes, Chinese Suona music, Scottish folk music and other stage music to create an amazing fusion of Scottish and Chinese sounds. It was an absolute privilege to be there supporting the band and to be on stage!

In absence of official video footage from the venues, I’ve attached some links combining some not-so-high-res phone footage from the audience.

•The first tune ever played to an audience was Highland Cathedral at the school graduation in May, 2024.
•Highlights from the band’s first public concert, Encounter, in June 2024.

It has been amazing to see the effort the band has put in so far, especially to adapt to an instrument that isn’t well known in China, and to develop the strength required for piping. The band’s ethos is based on “Commitment, Professionalism, Fun” and all of these have been apparent in the students’ attitude towards progression.

Heading into the summer holiday break, the band has one more performance. After the summer, they have already been booked to perform at one of China’s largest professional trade shows (which had more than 400,000 visitors at last year’s event). The band is even on course to be attending Tartan Day 2025 in New York!