We have a fantastic line up of teachers in all disciplines for the Bruggen School in 2019 . Click the grey name bar at the top of each biography to find out more about each teacher.
Willie is a native of Campbeltown, where he learned piping primarily from his uncles Ronald and Hugh and P/M Ronald McCallum, Piper to the Duke of Argyll. His roots go right back to the early days of piping competition and his 4 times great grandfather, John MacAlister, won the Prize Pipe in 1782.
This season has seen Willie involved in the normal circuit of competition where he competed in some of the major events at Piping Live!, the Springbank Invitational as well as major prizes at Inverness and Oban.
Some of his notable career wins are the Glenfiddich Piping Championships with a record 8 overall wins, the Gold Medals at Inverness and Oban, Senior Piobaireachd Oban (3), Bratach Gorm (4), Silver Chanter (3), Former Winners MSR Oban (5), Former Winners MSR Inverness (4), P/M Donald MacLeod Memorial (9), Springbank Invitational (9), Dan Reid Memorial (7), Donald MacDonald Quaich (3), Former Winners MSR London (5).
He runs his own piping business, Willie McCallum Piping, which involves teaching, as well as selling bagpipes, being consultant to bagpipe maker McCallum Bagpipes Ltd, in Kilmarnock and similarly involved at Bannatyne Ltd, Pipe Bag maker, working on developing bags and moisture control devices. His teaching career started in the early 1990s and since then he has been involved in teaching several champion pipers who have won Silver Medals, Gold Medals, Former Winners MSR, Clasps and the Silver Chanter.
Willie lives in Bearsden with his wife Christine and has two children, Hailey and Scott.
Finlay MacDonald has blazed a trail as one of the country’s finest exponents of contemporary and traditional Piping. He has worked with many leading artists in the traditional music scene including Fred Morrison, The Unusual Suspects, La Banda Europa, Old Blind Dogs and Chris Stout. He combines the mastery and dedication of traditional Piping with a true sense of musical adventure and creative collaboration producing a unique musical voice which can be heard on numerous recordings and projects. His Compositions and arrangements have been played by many leading artists including The World Champions, Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band.
Always driven by collaboration and innovation, Finlay’s passion for the music he has grown up with has led him to the post of “Head of Piping Studies” at the National Piping Centre and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland where he continues to inspire and develop the very best of new Piping talent.
“Finlay MacDonald has emerged as one of the leading lights in the current crop of young pipers with deep roots in the pipe band tradition, but grafted on to a distinctly contemporary musical sensibility to produce a compelling hybrid.”
Kenny Matheison, The Scotsman 12/5/07
Alisdair is from Perth, Western Australia. He began piping at Trinity College, Perth at the age of 13 where he also received tuition from local pipers John MacMurchie and Malcolm Brown. In 1996 which was his final year of high school, he was promoted to Pipe Major of the Trinity College Pipes & Drums where he led the band to various juvenile championship wins in Western Australia. In the same year he was also a member of the Grade 3 Armadale City Pipe Band when they won the Australian & South Pacific Pipe Band Championships.
Alisdair joined Western Australia Police Pipe Band (WAPOL) in 1997 and was a part of a very successful period for the band winning the 1998 Grade 2 World Championships, 2001 Grade 1 American Championships and a 10th place at the 2004 World Championships Grade 1.
In 2005 whilst still living in Perth, Australia, Alisdair became the first fly in guest player for the world renowned Strathclyde Police Pipe Band, 12 times winners of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Associations World Pipe Band Championship. In 2006 Alisdair was appointed to the position of Pipe Major of the Western Australia Police Pipe Band which he held for 12 months before relocating to Glasgow in October 2007.
Alisdair is also an accomplished solo piper having won many prizes throughout Australia. At the end of 2008 he joined the ranks of the 10 time World Champions, Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band where he has won every Major title including the Scottish, British, European, Cowal, Ulster, All Ireland and World Pipe Band Championships. In 2011 and 2013 Alisdair was a part of the band that completed the “Grand Slam” winning all 5 major championships in one season including the World Pipe Band Championships.
Outside of piping Alisdair is a keen Triathlete having raced in many events throughout Western Australia and Scotland. Since 2014 Alisdair has completed the Ironman UK 70.3 ,Ironman Wales, and Challenge Roth in Germany. Recently, Alisdair completed the Paris Marathon and is now currently training for Challenge Roth, Germany and Ironman Busselton, Western Australia, events which take place in 2016.
John's piping career began in earnest at the age of nine, under the watchful eye of his father, Brian, and former double Gold Medallist and Pipe Sergeant of the the Strathclyde Police Pipe Band, Angus J. MacLellan. Alongside close attention to the technical intricacies of the chanter and pipes, a deep appreciation for the music and traditions was instilled at an early age. This rigorous grounding has gone on to influence what has become a wide and varied career as a professional piping teacher and performer.
As a teacher, John's first experiences were gained at Glasgow's College of Piping as an evening class and summer school instructor. This formative experience gave an early insight into the wide variety of ages, backgrounds and learning needs of piping students. Since 2008 John has been a full time member of the National Piping Centre's teaching faculty. The diversity of students attending individual lessons, courses, summer schools, workshops, seminars and online courses at the National Piping Centre, at home and abroad, has enabled John to develop a thoughtful, intuitive and responsive approach to teaching. Equally comfortable teaching the complete basics of holding the practice chanter, through to expressing the nuances of piping's classic repertoire, or mentoring pipers in search of a new approach to their playing, John's teaching style and experience caters for the individual needs of each student. In addition, as a holder of the Piping and Drumming Qualifications Board SCQF Level 8 certificate John is an approved examiner for all PDQB examinations.
As a performer and composer/arranger John's background is varied, showing an equally deep appreciation for the competitive traditions of solo piping and pipe bands as for more contemporary forms of expression. In terms of solo competition John has been a successful competitor on the annual highland games circuit from a young age, winning many awards over the years and in 2012 was runner-up in Highland Society of London's Gold Medal at the Argyllshire Gathering, one of solo piping's most prestigious competitions. Having been involved in a number of pipe bands since the age of twelve John is currently a member of the 'all-star' Grade 1 band Spirit of Scotland. It is in electronic music production that John has been able to stretch his creativity and find new avenues for exploring traditional music, with a number of critically acclaimed releases. John is also a founding member of The Big Music Society, a multifaceted project with the express aim of helping to foster new and creative approaches the piping's 'classical' tradition, Ceol Mor.
A native of Airdrie north Lanarkshire was taugh his piping from his father John before recieving lessons from Bob McFie, Jim Semple, Logan Tannoch, James Wark, Donald MacPhee and William J Morrison.
Dan was one of the first members of the national youth pipe band of scotland and holds a degree in applied music from the university of strathclyde.
In 2006 Dan joined then Robert Wiseman diaries Vale of Atholl pipe band and began his grade one career. Since 2010 Dan has been a member of Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band. Winning the world pipe band championships in 2015.
We have a fantastic line up of teachers in all disciplines for the Homburg School in 2019 . Click the grey name bar at the top of each biography to find out more about each teacher.
John Wilson is a native of Campbeltown, Argyllshire and comes from a long line of family pipers in that area. He was originally taught by his father, Pipe Major William Wilson but studied pibroch under the legendary Pipe Major Donald MacLeod for 25 years.
He started competing at the age of eight and won all juvenile events in Scotland several times over in the years following. In 1965 he turned to professional piping and won the Argyllshire Gathering Medal for the senior Strathspey & Reel competition at 15 years of age.
In 1968 he won the Gold Medal at the Northern Meetings at his first attempt aged 18 years. From there on he won virtually every major solo award including the Gold Medals at Oban and Inverness plus the senior Piobaireachd and Former Winners' March, Strathspey & Reel events at both meetings.
He joined the police in 1970 and was Pipe Sergeant of the Strathclyde Police Pipe Band during their halcyon period of major championship victories which included six consecutive World Championship wins. In total he won 12 World Pipe Band Championships with the band.
John retired from the police in 2003 and is now a senior adjudicator on the joint approved list for solo piping and the RSPBA panel for pipe bands. He also teaches at home and abroad.
Willie was taught to play the bagpipe by Pipe Major John F Nicol of the famous Clan MacRae Society Pipe Band at the age of ten. He was born in Glasgow, and has lived in various parts, including Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and India. He is currently resident in Milton of Buchanan near Balmaha in the Loch Lomond area in Scotland.
He has enjoyed a wide and varied career outwith piping, and was heavily involved as a professional diver for the Strathclyde Police underwater search unit, doing varied work in police and fatal accident photography. His related articles and work have appeared in several eminent Scottish publications, including Scottish Field.
Willie initially became involved with the College of Piping in the 1990’s mainly as a volunteer, helping to alleviate the workload of repairs, bag tying and general assistance to all those in need; he was so successful in this regard that before long he was appointed Shop Manager at the College, a position he currently holds. He holds the College dear to his heart, and has spearheaded many projects, both solo and group, which have raised invaluable funds for the charity arm of the College. Some of these expeditions have included a solo assault on the base camp at Everest, several daunting walks on the West Highland way, an occasion where he walked the perimeter of the Isle of Arran along with then College Chairman Dugald MacNeill, completing 54 miles inside 24 hours, a ziplining escapade, kayaking around Arran in aid of the College pipe band, and paddling the length of Loch Lomond solo in under 6 ½ hours.
Willie has played with the Milngavie Pipe Band, the Chivas Regal Pipes and Drums, the South Lanarkshire Pipe Band, Lomond and Clyde, and founded the College of Piping Pipe Band. He is an enthusiastic teacher and organiser of many College related activities, and his help is invaluable as an ambassador around the world at schools in many countries, especially at the College classes which are held annually at the top-class facility in Homburg, Germany.
Finlay has played in several pipe bands over his career, most recently with Inveraray & District under Pipe Major Stuart Liddell. He spent 4 years with Inveraray, during their rise from Grade 2 to the top end of Grade 1. Prior to this he played in The Spirit of Scotland Pipe band under Pipe Major Roddy MacLeod and also the 52nd Lowland Regiment under Pipe Major Gordon Walker.
Prior to joining The National Piping Centre, he worked as a reed maker and is a time-served Mechanical Engineer.
Some of Finlay’s main results include:
- 1st – 2016 March, Strathspey and Reel – Uist and Barra Association Competition
- 1st – 2015 Highland Society of London Gold Medal – Northern Meeting
- 1st – 2015 A Grade MSR – Northern Meeting
- 4th – 2015 Open Piobaireachd – Argyllshire Gathering
- 4th – 2015 Masters Piobaireachd
- 3rd – 2015 Masters MSR
- 3rd – 2015 Donald MacLeod Memorial Piobaireachd
- 2nd – 2014 Masters Piobaireachd
- 1st – 2012 Highland Society of London Gold Medal – Argyllshire Gathering
- 1st – 2011 A Grade S&R – Argyllshire Gathering
- 1st – 2006 Silver Medal – Northern Meeting
Ross Ainslie is one of Scotland’s finest traditional musicians and composers, playing pipes, whistles and cittern. He is renowned for his highly acclaimed solo material, and as a skilled performer and prolific collaborator who performs regularly with bands Treacherous Orchestra – of which he is a founding member – Salsa Celtica, Dougie Maclean, Charlie Mckerron, India Alba, and with Jarlath Henderson.
Born in Perthshire in 1983, Ross began his career as a member of the Perth and District Pipe Band, before joining the Grade 1 Vale of Atholl Pipe Band, where he was mentored by piper Gordon Duncan. Hugely influenced by Gordon’s fearlessly innovative spirit and groundbreaking compositions, Ross began exploring his own abilities as a composer and writing his own tunes, and in 2002 he was a finalist in the prestigious BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year competition.
Ross is a founding member of the 13-piece musical powerhouse Treacherous Orchestra. In April 2015, they received a prestigious nomination for the Scottish Album of the Year Award longlist for their second album Grind. He’s also a member of world/trad fusion group Salsa Celtica and Indian-Scottish quartet India Alba. Ross also writes and performs with Irish Uilleann piper Jarlath Henderson. The pair have released two critically acclaimed albums which showcase their groundbreaking fusion of Border and Uilleann pipes – Partners in Crime (2008) and Air-Fix (2013).
In 2013, Ross released his first solo record, Wide Open, which offers a snap-shot into his rich musical influences. It was nominated for Album of the Year at the Scots Trad Music Awards in 2013 and made the top 10 of the Sunday Herald’s Top 50 Scottish Albums of 2013 list (no.9).
In 2015 Ross was commissioned by Celtic Connections to compose a new work for its prestigious New Voices strand. The piece – Remembering – saw Ross turn his hand to songwriting, in addition to writing new tunes, drawing on past experiences and relationships which have influenced him both musically and personally.
A highly in-demand musician, he has joined an array of acclaimed bands and musicians on tour and in the recording studio – including recording as one third of trad collective Tunebook, plus tours with Gordon Duncan, Flook and Ivan Drever’s band Clueless, and a special guest spot on Shooglenifty’s The Untied Knot.
In a career with many highlights so far, Ross continually pushes new musical boundaries. Prestigious industry recognition has come in the form of a multitude of award nominations, nomination for Musician of the Year at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2013 and 2016, nomination for Best Duo with Jarlath Henderson in 2014.
He’s also received nods at the Scots Trad Music Awards with various nominations, nominated for Instrumentalist of the year in 2010 nominated for Live Act of the year with Jarlath Henderson in 2008 and with Treacherous Orchestra in 2009 and 2010, nominated for Album of the year in 2013, Treacherous Orchestra won Album of the year and Ross also was Composer of the year in 2015.
Exciting projects on the horizon include the recording of his New Voice piece Remembering for an album of the same name which is due to be released late summer 2015, and aspirations to follow its release with a series of live dates with the New Voices band.
Wilson is originally from Crieff, Perthshire, where he started piping at the age of 8, taught by the late P/M John MacKenzie, Dunblane. He received tuition from him for the next 28 years.
Wilson played for the local Strathearn Pipe Band in Grade 4, before joining the Vale of Atholl Pipe Band where he enjoyed success in Grade 2 and 3. Having joined Strathclyde Police in 1982, Wilson was a member of the police pipe band winning the Grade 1 World Championship on 5 occasions. He later became a member of the Spirit of Scotland Pipe Band.
Wilson was a police officer for 30 years before retiring from the force in 2012. He was a Chief Inspector and was the Area Commander responsible for delivering policing in East Ayrshire. One of the highlights of his career was as a member of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Bid Team where he was responsible for the security planning.
Wilson has a BA in Police Studies and a Post Graduate Diploma in International Event Management from Glasgow Caledonian University.
In his solo career, Wilson won the Silver Medal, A Grade Strathspeys and Reels and the Gold Medal at the Northern Meetings. He retired from competitive piping in 1996 to focus on his police career. In 2016 he returned to the competition circuit where he competed in the Clasp at the Northern Meeting for the first time.
Since retiring from the police he has worked as a part time instructor at the NPC teaching a range of students from Oman who were working towards SCQF qualifications. He holds a SCQF Level 8 and is an approved assessor.
Drum Major Billy Jordan has a vast range of pipe band experience. Billy is very much in demand for Drum Major instruction and carries out workshops world wide with students winning Major Championships. A champion Drum Major himself and regular World, European, British, Scottish & Cowal finalist. He started with George Mills & Jim Cavan on the side drum aged 12 and later took Bass instruction from Duncan Lawrie & Ian McMillian.
His drumming qualifications took a more formal turn when he joined the Army and served with The 1st Btn Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders Army where he gained the Army Class 3 Drumming (snare), Army Class 2 drumming (snare), RSPBA Elementary (snare) and RSPBA Intermediate (snare).
He received Drum Major instruction from Drum Major Willie Lafferty at the age of 12 years old, this proved fruitful as he passed his Army Drum Majors Certificate which distinction.
Previous bands have included Dumbarton & District, Mid Argyll Pipe Band and The 1st Btn Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders where he was the first Drum Major of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo when it went overseas to New Zealand in 2000.
This was one of the highlights of his career along with playing for Her Majesty the Queen and royal family on several occasions.
The Italian Piper's Association are hosting their spring school in Calambrone near Pisa in Tuscany from the 25th - 28th April 2019. Teachers include our very own Roddy MacLeod and Wilson Brown, who will teach alongside Alberto Massi, for an excellent 4 days of teaching.
Full details of costs for the school have now been updated, with prices starting from €350 for all tuition, accommodation and full board.
At the school there will be the opportunity to sit PDQB examinations.
The school will be held at the Regina Mundi holiday house, and for friends or family of pipers, there is a beach, just on the other side of the hotel!
So take advantage of this fantastic school, in a beautiful location with the best teachers for a great price by booking your place now.
The National Piping Centre requires all students to use hearing protection at all times when playing pipes. Hearing protection is available for purchase in our shop or free of charge from the earplug dispenser in both our piping school venues.
Find out more
Find out more about this great school in Tuscany HERE
Bruggen Winter School - Germany
The Pipers Corner, Bruggen, is proud to present the Original Winter School in Bruggen, Germany. Join tutors from The National Piping Centre, and other top instructors for a week long school which includes lessons, concerts, recitals and more. Now with a Half Week/Half Price option for Drumming Tuition
Virginia Piping School
Join a stellar line-up of teachers in 2019 as The National Piping Centre returns to Shenandoah University, Winchester, VA for its annual Summer school. With piping tuition some of the world's best instructors, this will be a school not to be missed!
Italian Piper's Association Spring School 2019
Join a line up of great teachers from The National Piping Centre and from the Italian Piper's Association with this school set in the historic and beautiful region of Tuscany in April 2019
Homburg Winter School
The Annual Winter School in Homburg will return to the Jugendherberge (youth hostel) in the town in Saarland, Germany, from 10th - 17th February 2019. Read on for more information and to book now!