Bloggees may recall rants
about the difficulty of getting young (or even any) pipers involved in local Pipe Bands. A bloggee who is a 'streamer and now based in Embra writes about Coldstream:In fact, and you are welcome to blog this, the band is going to take a sabbatical for a year or so while we sort out our teaching of younger players. The big issue remains getting enough adults still living locally to teach the youngsters and getting enough youngsters willing to learn.
The Berwickshire bands have always had to cope with the de-population of younger people to the urban areas, traditionally Edinburgh (like me) and Newcastle. It was nearly always the case that anyone who got to sixth year at Berwickshire High School and/or went to university, left Berwickshire and didn't return unless they were teaching locally or returning to the family farm or business. There was, however, enough local employment to ensure that there were a good number of local youngsters who stayed. These days, however, with the collapse of many businesses and the reduction in the number working in agriculture, boys and girls are leaving whatever their academic achievements and, again, they are not returning. For bands, this means that just as a piper or drummer reaches an age when they're beginning to play well enough to be in the band, say in their mid to late teens, they leave and we see them for civic week and that's all. You'll notice that pictures on the website of the band at civic week featuring huge numbers, the rest of the year the band reduces to those lucky enough to still live locally.
The days when villages were self-supporting communities with industry and infrastructure and enough of a population to support bands and sports teams has gone. Coldstream, in my opinion, looks more like a retirement home than the busy, functioning, businesslike town I remember, which is not in itself a bad thing but it is not creating proper jobs that will keep people in the town, particularly young people who have families. But that's rich of me to say so given that I live in Embra. And, of course, it has to be admitted that many kids cannot be arsed learning an instrument as fickle as the pipes. And sometimes I don't bame them!
So, Coldstream must now look to teaching youngsters as quickly as possible to create a band with a much younger profile than it ever had before. And this in itself is a tricky operation because youngsters that age need watching and marshalling and that's a big responsibility for just a few adults. Witness the call by the Brownies for leaders to come forward. All youth orgaisations are struggling in this litigous society. In my apprenticeship for the band we started with the Boys Brigade band where we were well taught and looked after (there's no BB now) and then progressed to the town band at 15 or 16 where the older men kept an eye out between visits to the pub but not a lot more. Our parents knew that but trusted the older men to keep things relatively in order, I am not sure that modern parents are that pragmatic.
The band will not vanish, and certainly we have lots of drummers just now and we'll have more pipers in time, but its changed days and it'll take a while to adapt.
So any one raring to pipe and is in the neighbourhood (and not in the Antipodes) please get in touch and Huttonian will make the introduction to the High Band Heidians in Coldstream