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. 

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John Wilson

John Wilson

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 Park

Willie Park

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 Johnston

Finlay Johnston
Finlay began learning the pipes at the age of 8 with his Grandfather (Alastair Sinclair) during a summer spent with him at his home on the Isle of Tiree. He began receiving lessons from Ronnie McShannon shortly afterwards and continued to do so since. Finlay has been surrounded by piping his whole life – His mother (Anne Johnston) was a very successful solo piper, being the first woman ever to win the Silver Medal. His father (Tommy Johnston) was also a successful pipe band drummer and played under Leading Drummer Alex Duthart.

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

Ross Ainslie

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 Brown

Wilson Brown

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.

James Beaton

James Beaton
James Beaton grew up in Inveraray, and has a degree is Celtic Studies from Edinburgh University. He is Librarian of the National Piping Centre, and also teaches on the Centre's undergraduate courses, run in conjunction with the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, as well as on the HNC Music course run by the Centre.He was taught piping principally by Pipe Major Ronald MacCallum MBE and he is a fluent Gaelic speaker.

Billy Jordan

Billy Jordan

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.



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The National Piping Centre exists to promote the study of the music and history of the Highland Bagpipe.
Patron HRH The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay, KG, KT, GCB.
Founders: Sir Brian Ivory CVO CBE FRSE MA CA - Lady Oona Ivory DL MA ARCM FRSA - Sandy Grant Gordon CBE MA

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HRH The Prince Charles,
Duke of Rothesay, Patron

with Founders, Sir Brian and Lady Ivory and the Lord Provost Bob Winter on the occasion of the 10th Anniversary of the Opening of The National Piping Centre.

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