New courses to help improve piping and drumming skills  

Pipe Bands by Mervyn McConnell

"WOULD you like to play the pipes or drums? Would you like to improve your skills?"

If the answer to either of these two questions is yes, then the Northern Ireland Piping and Drumming School will be able to provide you with the opportunity to do so.

The school was founded in 1980 by Director Sam Bailie to teach piping and drumming to all and to improve the skills of existing players.

It is open to students of all ages from 7 to 70 with the majority being within the 16-25 age band.

Courses are organised to cover all grades with a Certificate awarded for each of the eight grades, all taken by fully qualified instructors. Students of the school have attained awards in solo competitions in both piping and drumming at the highest level and others have led their bands to world titles.

The school also offers help for pipers and drummers wanting to use their knowledge and skills to gain the General Certificate of Education or the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

Classes are currently offered at two permanent centres in Northern Ireland namely Laurelhill Community College Lisburn and the University of Ulster Magee Campus in association with the Institute of Ulster-Scots Studies.

Classes commence on September 30 at 10.00am in both centres and will run each Saturday until March 2007. Piobaireachd and Bass and Tenor drumming classes as well as a series of Master Classes have also been arranged.

An Open Evening has been organised (both centres) on Wednesday September 20 at 7.30pm.

For further information contact the School at 38a Railway Street Lisburn telephone 028 9262 8591 or visit

Highland Dancing classes will also be held in Laurelhill Community College Lisburn each Saturday from September to March 2007 at 10.00am.

Tuition by qualified instructor for competitive dancing and National examinations with individual tuition is available by arrangement. Again contact the Piping and Drumming School.

All these events are supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

The second year of the invitational "Young solo Piper of the Year" was held last Friday in the Clubrooms of Dungannon Swifts Football club at Strangmore Park.

The adjudicator for the event was well known gold metal and solo piper Stuart Liddell, who gave a brilliant performance of jigs hornpipes strathspey and reels. The skill and talent of this young man was very much appreciated by all those present and he was given a standing ovation.

The winners of the event were as Follows: Over 15 and under 18 section - 1st. David Stone (Waterford City) 2nd. Jonathan Lamberton (Ballycoan) 3rd. Gemma Redman (Cullybackey). 4th. Mark Ferguson (Seven Towers).

Under 15 section - 1st. Bradley Parker 2nd. Graham Harris 3rd. Robert Green. 4th. John Fettis.

Special prize donated by Dungannon Swifts for the best-dressed piper on the night was won by Graham Harris.

The 2006 All Ireland Piping and Drumming solos will take place on Saturday September 16 in Newry High School.

September 30 is the meeting of the Northern Ireland Branch of the RSPBA in the Bridge Community Centre Lisburn commencing at 2.00pm.

October 7 will see the annual invitational "Piper of the Year" event taking place in the Adair Arms Hotel Ballymena. The piobaireachd section will start at noon and the MSR around 7pm.

October 14 is the date for a solo drumming championship competition organised by the Competing Soloists Organisation in the Courtyard Theatre Ballyearl. Then the big event for drummers will be the world solo championships staged here in Northern Ireland for the first time at Monkstown Community School, Newtownabbey on Saturday October 28.

This competition will be sponsored by Sam Hodgen and Andante Percussion from Rathfriland.

Ulster Star