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The National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland Newsletter No.2

Grand launch concert: 8 August HE National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland makes its public concert debut on 8 August with a performance at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama’s New Athenaeum Theatre, Glasgow. Following a brief introduction and performance by Chris Armstrong, the band will present an hour-long, non-stop, light, sound and dance show that introduces the project to the public, and the band’s pipers and drummers to their “young star” ensemble billing in “an exciting show featuring some of Scotland’s best young pipers and drummers that takes pipe band music away from the competition arena and into the world of stage and light.” The show, directed by Paul Warren and produced by Brian McNeill, director of RSAMD’s BA (Scottish Music) programme, features a range of pipe repertoire: traditional, international and modern. The director of percussion is Garry Killen, lead drummer of the grade one David Urquhart Travel Pipe Band, and accompaniment involves students of the RSAMD (Scottish Music) and (Scottish Music — Piping) programmes. Said NYPBoS director Paul Warren: “It is fantastic to be able to call on this kind of expertise. “To meet the challenges involved in getting everyone together, rehearsals will be held during the


10 days prior to the event. The build-up starts on Wednesday, 30 July. “We’ll work on different groups with full concert rehearsals starting on Monday, 4 August,” he said. “Rehearsals will take place mostly at the National Piping Centre; 7 August will be a ‘set up’ day at the venue “It’s so important that all members are confident with all the material prior to our next rehearsal,” said Paul Warren. “Please put in the practice. It’s essential.

Full inaugural corps chosen by Paul Warren, Director, THE NATIONAL YOUTH PIPE BAND OF SCOTLAND


elcome to the second edition of Youngstars — the newsletter that keeps you up to date with the progress of The National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland. This has been a busy period indeed but things are taking shape and look very exciting. Inevitably, funding is a big issue and we have been working hard to secure funding for the next phase of the project. We are in dialogue with the Scottish Arts Council and I would hope to be in a position to confirm our position in the next edition of Youngstars. Garry Killen, our drumming co-ordinator, has been working tirelessly and we ended up with well over our target number of applicants. The highlight of this process was organising our “Youth Drumming Open Day”. The huge success of this day was down to the expertise and enthusiasm of Jim Kilpatrick. Jim led the day with support from members of his corps and from the corps of David Urquhart Travel with Garry Killen. More on this later but my thanks to Jim and Garry for PIPING TODAY

a fantastic day. The NYPBoS drum corps has now been selected and the successful applicants are named in this newsletter. Congratulations to you all and I look forward to seeing you soon for a rehearsal day. We will be holding courses starting in September/October and I would urge those of you that were unsuccessful to try again. Since the selection of the pipe corps. we have held two-rehearsal days that went very well indeed. I was very impressed with the playing, sound and hard work: a great sign for what is to come. Now we have selected our 32 pipers and 18 drummers, it is time to turn our attention to launching the band. We will do this in style by performing a concert on 8 August. Expect to receive more information on this later. As we enter the competition season may I just wish you and your band the very best — I look forward to seeing you on the circuit.

“With this in mind, and the fact that most of you will soon be on holiday, I’d like to invite anyone who feels he of she would benefit from some help with the tunes just to phone me and arrange to come in to the Centre.” TICKETS for the 8 p.m. concert are available from the RSAMD box office, phone: (0141) 332 5057. Following the concert there will be a reception for invited guests at the National Piping Centre.

Drummers selected THE 18-strong inaugural drum corps of The National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland has been selected. Members are: Scott Birrell of Burntisland, Fife. Alastair Brown of Renfrew. Alan Cartwright of Glasgow. Michael Connolly of Gourock Jamie Gaton of Campbeltown, Argyllshire Anna Halliday of Kilmartin, Argyllshire. Iain Halliday of Kilmartin, Argyllshire. David Henderson of Glasgow. Craig Lawrie of Paisley. John Martin of Campbeltown, Argyllshire. Nicola McConnachy of Southend, Argyllshire. Rona McBrayne of Southend, Argyllshire. Ailie McBryan of Campbeltown, Argyllshire. Stephanie Russell of Stirling. William Quinn of Dunoon, Argyllshire. David Ross of Dalgety Bay, Fife. Martone Tano of Edinburgh. Chris Taylor of Edinburgh. Youngstars • 1



NYPBoS drumming open day sets a standard

GARRY Killen, co-ordinator of drumming for the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland and lead drummer of the grade one David Urquhart Travel Pipe Band was a key organiser and resource person for the band’s Youth Drumming Open Day at The National Piping Centre. Photo: Derek Maxwell


HE National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland’s Youth Drumming Open Day at The National Piping Centre on 3 May set the scene for what is hoped will become an annual event. The programme featured two 45-minute teaching sessions with champion drummer Jim Kilpatrick, lead tip for the House of Edgar Shotts and Dykehead Pipe Band, followed by drumming demonstrations by Jim Kilpatrick and members of his corps, and by David Urqhuart Travel Pipe Band’s lead tip, Garry Killen, and members of his corps. (Garry Killen is also the drumming co-ordinator for the NYPBoS.) “It was an exciting day,” said NYPBoS director Paul Warren. “We could have included more in the programme for tenor and bass drummers, but the feedback was extremely positive and I’d like to think we can make this an annual event. “This was a first of its kind and a clear need and demand for it is out there. It would be great to develop it further.” Some 50 young drummers and a number of adult instructors attended the day-long event and, as well as receiving coaching from Jim Kilpatrick saw startling displays of outstanding drumming from the two grade one corps, including a re-creation of Alex Duthart’s classic drum fanfare by Jim Kilpatrick and two of his Shotts corps members.

AT the end of an exciting day: learners and teachers who took part in the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland’s Youth Drumming Open Day Photo: Derek Maxwell at The National Piping Centre.

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JIM Kilpatrick… “The most important thing is to build up a technique that allows you to do basically anything you want to do.” Youngstars

LEAD tips and corps members of two high profile grade one bands got together on stage for an electrifying demonstration of percussion skills at the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland’s Youth Drumming Open Day. Jim Kilpatrick (House of Edgar Shotts and Dykehead Pipe Band) is at the left and Garry Killen (David Urquhart Travel Pipe Band) is at right. Photo: Derek Maxwell

COUNTING it out counted these youngsters in — as new members of the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland at the band’s Youth Drumming Open Day at The National Piping Centre.

Photo: Derek Maxwell

Photo: Derek Maxwell

DAVID Urquhart Travel Pipe Band drummers included a set of American-style quad drums (foreground) and an African djembe drum (background) in their demonstration at the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland’s Youth Drumming Open Day at The National Piping Centre. Photo: Derek Maxwell


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JIM Kilpatrick… “Nowadays, with the weight placed on ensemble performance and musicality, a band relies heavily on what drummers can contribute.” Youngstars

Drums’ role relies on technique and musicality JIM KILPATRICK


UDDY Rich, Gene Krupa, Louie Bellison, Art Blakey, Dave Weckel, Vinnie Caliuta… it is among the great names of jazz percussion that the world’s top-rated pipe band drummer, Jim Kilpatrick, most readily identifies the exemplars of drumming. After all, there was a time when he was playing drum kits professionally himself, and he might easily have been swayed to make his future there. “Jazz is based on swing and excitement, the drummer’s ability to drive a band or an orchestra,” he says. “And that’s very much the role of a pipe band drum corps today. “Buddy Rich… I looked on Buddy Rich as being the ultimate in excitement, flair, technique and everything that’s good about playing drum kit. “What makes a good drummer is lots of things: you need rhythm, you need control and good technique, you need good ears,” he says. “You need to be able to look and listen and apply what you learn at a basic level into your playing and drum scores. “It would do no pipe band drummer any harm at all to go and buy and listen to some albums of some of the top jazz drummers of today and yesterday. There’s always something there to pick up on, and help give you a wider view of percussion.” The fundamentals are identical, he says. “The most important thing is to build up a technique that allows you to do basically anything you want to do. And technique is primarily practice. “Then you need to turn your technique into a musical style. “Some people play technically, some play musically. To me, the musical drummer is always more pleasant to listen to. But the technical drummer can play all sorts of things. “The best combination is to have great technique and to play musically.” Increasingly, pipe band drummers are being relied upon to provide the edge and flair that set a band apart. “The old attitude of drummers being second class citizens has totally changed,” says Jim Kilpatrick. “Nowadays, with the weight placed on ensemble performance and musicality, a band relies heavily on what drummers can contribute. There are lots of effects a drum corps can create within the different musical patterns, and the drums can add a lot more rhythmical excitement to a tune. A drum corps can turn a weak melody into a very strong piece — not by changing any of the notes, but by changing it rhythmically and creating different patterns within the melody… and bass and tenor sections are putting a whole range of different voices, layers of tone and pitch into the ensemble set-up.” It is no coincidence that this shift has taken place very largely during Jim Kilpatrick’s pipe band career: when it comes to drum corps, he has consistently been a standards setter. He embarked on his drumming with the Whitrigg Colliery Pipe Band (subsequently Polkemmet) but at 15 moved to the Shotts and Dykehead band under

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Jim Kilpatrick

the great standards setter of his day, Alex Duthart. Jim Kilpatrick’s ambition was already kindled. “I wanted to be the best drummer in the world. I was totally focused on trying to play properly, practise properly and taking my drumming career seriously so I could get to the top. I always hoped that people would look upon me the way Alex Duthart was respected. That makes the world go round.” Like hundreds of other Central Scottish youngsters of his generation, Jim Kilpatrick left school to begin work as a miner — but drumming was his priority and he remembers descending into a mine shaft with his drum pad and sticks intent on finding a secluded, unlit passage where he could put in an eight-hour shift of undisturbed practice. The practice paid off. Drumming gave Jim Kilpatrick his opportunity to quit the mine and become a professional musician, playing drum kit with club circuit bands Jade and Havana Rockets, playing occasional gigs with better, big name bands and putting in time as a session drummer. “I was riven at that time between pipe band and drum kit work,” he recalls. “I like all rhythmical stuff — hand drums, congas, drum kit, the lot.” In 1980, though, with his first World Championship corps titles under his belt, he returned as lead drummer to his old Polkemmet Pipe Band. “That was me branching out for the first time to take on my own drum corps,” he said. In 1986, he re-joined Shotts and has been there since, winning 14 more World Championship titles as lead tip in 16 years. (He has 17 in all.) Last year’s Champion of Champions win was his corps’ twelfth victory out of a possible 14. Jim Kilpatrick has also won the World Solo Championships a record 14 times, and the Percussion Arts Society has honoured him with its “Lifetime Achievement Award“ for drumming. For the past 20 years, Jim Kilpatrick has been employed by Premier Percussion and helped the company to develop its Tendura head and the HTS 200 and HTS 700 snare drums. He also is in high demand internationally as a drumming teacher, and teaches percussion for the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama’s traditional music degree programme. “But I’ve also been involved in teaching snare drum rudiments to

the classical percussionists,” he says. “The rudiments are the same — it’s the application that’s different.” Jim Kilpatrick recently was responsible for writing five pipe band drumming modules for the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA). “They’ve had qualifications in place for piano, guitar, saxophone and all the other instruments, including percussion, but they’d never had it for pipe band drumming. “With the SQA involved in pipe band drumming, youngsters take on the SQA certification and come away with something to show for the work they’ve done. “I’m now doing the same for tenor drumming and base drumming, putting the modules in place so that it’s in the curriculum for the education authorities to use. If it’s not in the system, it can’t be used; it effectively doesn’t exist.” Jim Kilpatrick would like to see more drumming tutors available to youngsters through their schools. “There’s certainly more piping instructors than drummers going into the education system. But I think drumming will move in that direction. It’s what we need. It would help immensely with the standards and help to develop the interest, to get more drummers involved with pipe band drumming.” More pipe bands, especially juvenile pipe bands, have recently been — and are being — established and Jim Kilpatrick sees the number of drummers growing. “A very good thing is that we’re seeing a lot more female tenor drummers. I believe we’ll see more female snare drummers coming in as well.” At the same time, less one-on-one tuition is available for drummers than for learner pipers. “That’s maybe partly down to there being much more solo piping activity than solo drumming,” he says. “There are only two or three solo drumming competitions a year. “We need to install the building blocks into the system to encourage youngsters to take the instrument up. That’s very much up to the bands and some of the top drummers, to get more involved in teaching. “It’s difficult,” he concedes. “These days there are so many other domestic and work-related pressures. I don’t know that there’s as much free time for drummers to dedicate themselves to teaching other bands or other drummers.” Jim Kilpatrick sees an important role for the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland: “It’s a huge step forward for pipe bands and for the younger generation,” he says. “I think it will be regarded as a benchmark, as something to aspire to, and that will motivate the young people to work harder. And they’re getting top instruction and encouragement. “Obviously, when you’re in the company of better players, it’s a great motivator and can only be good for the standard of playing within the band — and I can see that only being good for the general standard. “These youngsters will be the teachers of the future, taught be some of the best teachers of today. They are the next generation of top players and teachers.” ● PIPING Youngstars TODAY

Jim Kilpatrick  

Jim Kilpatrick..."the most important thing is to build up a technique that allows you to do basically everything you want to do."

Jim Kilpatrick  

Jim Kilpatrick..."the most important thing is to build up a technique that allows you to do basically everything you want to do."