Fees, Bursaries and Scholarships


The Fee for this year's Virginia Piping and Drumming School is £500 (approx $630). Please note, we can only accept Mastercard or Visa card payments online. We cannot accept American Express. 

There are x2 accommodation packages available alongside this. You can find details of this on the Accommodation page

If you would like to bring a group of 5 or more, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to find out about bespoke group rates. 

Class T-shirt 

The Virginia Piping and Drumming School 2019 t-shirt is $35. To purchase your t-shirt, please email John Taylor - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your size. 

Meal Plans

Meals are available in the Allen Dining Hall in the Shenandoah University. These are the 2019 prices and are indicative for this year. We expect they will be similar for 2019, but will confirm as soon as possible. 

  • Meal Plan for Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner: $27.83

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner can also be bought and paid for as required on a per meal basis. 

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The Pipe Major Kevin Ray Blandford Memorial Piping Bursary.

The National Piping Centre is delighted with the continued support of the Clan Currie Society to give students the opportunity to receive a bursary aimed at supporting their tuition fees at our Virginia school.

The Clan Currie Society have dedicated this to the late Pipe Major Kevin Ray Blandford for his contribution to piping in America.

The Bursary

We would be pleased to accept applications from piping students who wish to receive a bursary to support school fees at our Virginia School. The bursary amount is for $250 and there will be one recipient.

Students who wish to apply should answer the question below on a separate attachment and return it by 30th April 2020 by e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Please have in your email the following:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Telephone Number
  • Date of Birth
  • Current occupation, (for example student, unemployed, Doctor etc)

In no more than 250 words, explain why you think you should receive this Bursary and how it would improve you as a piper?

N.B. We also require a letter(s) of recommendation to be submitted from your primary instructor or Pipe Major outlining: a) how the bursary would benefit your development as a piper and b) why they think you are a deserved recipient.


About The Clan Currie Society

Clan Currie SocietyThe Clan Currie Society, an American-based, international, non-profit cultural and educational organization, is the preeminent Scottish-American cultural society in preserving and promoting highland heritage at Scottish Games, ethnic festivals, as well as community groups and classrooms. The Society has over 3,000 members worldwide that gather via the Society’s website and at special events and clan gatherings.

The Society was originally formed in Glasgow, Scotland in 1959 to further the knowledge and appreciation of the MacMhuirich (pronounced MacVurich) bardic dynasty. Today, the organization is a respected producer of outstanding programs and events to honour Scotland’s rich culture and ancestry. The Society’s signature events include The Pipes of Christmas – a musical celebration of Christmas performed on bagpipes and brass, harp and fiddle, and organ – and the annual observance of Tartan Day on Ellis Island.

The MacMhuirichs served for over 700 years as professional poets to the Lords of the Isles and later to the MacDonalds of Clanranald among other prominent Highland clans and families. The Red Book of Clanranald, one of Gaelic Scotland’s literary treasures, was penned by successive generations of the MacMhuirich family.

In more contemporary times, MacMhuirich poetry and short stories have been chronicled in Alexander Carmichael’s Carmina Gadelica, Angus MacLellan’s Stories of South Uist, Thomas Owen Clancy’s The Triumph Tree (Scotland’s Earliest Poetry 550-1350) and the recently-released An Laebhar Mor – The Great Book of Gaelic. The ancient and historic MacMhuirich name and its anglicized equivalent Currie can be found throughout the Western Highlands and Islands of Scotland.

The Society produces a number of highly successful programs, including The Pipes of Christmas, Tartan Day on Ellis Island, and a Burns Night dinner dance. Clan Currie has also partnered with Sir Sean Connery and Friends of Scotland to help produce their popular “Dressed to Kilt” fashion fundraiser, the “Miracle on Madison” fundraiser for the Children’s Aid Society of New York and the National Theatre of Scotland’s New York premiere of “Black Watch” among others.

The Society’s scholarship program includes the Alex Currie Memorial Scholarship for Bagpipe and the Pipe Major Kevin Ray Blandford Memorial Scholarship. These scholarships are awarded annually to deserving young pipers. The Society also bestows an annual clarsach scholarship to the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. The Society is also the lead sponsor of the National Scottish Harp Championship conducted annually by the Scottish Harp Society of America and the Harpist of the Day competition at the Richmond (VA) Highland Games and Celtic Festival.

Clan Currie is now venturing into the field of documentary filmmaking and travelling exhibition production with a concentration on Scottish history and the arts. Past exhibitions have included The Life and Legacy of John Muir and Loyalty and Rebellion: The Jacobites and America. The Society received one of its many Telly Awards for production excellence for “The Crafter’s Song”, a documentary film narrated by Cliff Robertson.

The Society has been recognized as the Honored Clan at a number of Highland Games and gatherings, including the Brodick Games on the Isle of Arran, the Bute Games on the Isle of Bute, and the Clanjamfry Scottish Festival in Memphis, Tennessee.

The Arms of the Society were granted by the Court of the Lord Lyon, Edinburgh, Scotland on June 30, 2006. The star, or mullet, is a heraldic symbol frequently found on individual Currie family coats of arms in Scotland. The thistle wreath, or chaplet, represents the international community the Society has created in “promoting Scottish heritage in general and Clan Currie heritage in particular, involving domestic and international matters.”

About Pipe Major Kevin Ray Blandford (1963 – 2003)

Kevin Ray BlandfordKevin Blandford was already in love with music when he became infatuated with the bagpipes at 14. That infatuation grew much deeper, to the point where he became one of the most influential pipers in the United States, teaching dozens of students in California, composing original pieces, and performing the now classic Pipes of Christmas concert produced by the Clan Currie Society since 1999 in New York and New Jersey, and the Society’s annual Kirking of the Tartans service from 1995-1998.

Blandford’s performances of the Pipes of Christmas quickly became an annual family outing for those on the east coast, while Blandford’s recording of the same name originally made in the early 1990s have sold out several printings. “I don’t perform other Christmas concerts,” he said in a 2002 interview. “This is it.”

He had served as Pipe Major of the award-winning R.P. Blandford & Son Pipe Band since 1988. He and his father, Paul, had created the R.P. Blandford and Son Ltd. British Isles Import Shop in 1983. Kevin was also the president of the Western United States Pipe Band Association (WUSPBA) for several years.

Blandford lost his battle to cancer on November 26, 2003 at only 40 years old. Though he had kept the December 2003 Pipes of Christmas concert as a personal goal, he passed away just weeks short of the performances, which were dedicated to him.

Organist and collaborator Jeffrey Rickard recorded the original Pipes of Christmas CD with Blandford and still performs in the annual concerts. They also collaborated on “Amazing Grace: A Collection of Hymns of Bagpipe and Organ.” “We interacted along the same lines musically,” Rickard said.

“He had an amazing ability to hear and to visualize that most composers don’t – composing in his head duets and four-part harmony,” he told the Redlands (CA) Daily newspaper. “Most pipe bands are lucky to play a single line in tune. He did a lot of arranging with them and for use in the church hymns and service music. Now I think (these arrangements) will get impetus and be published for churches using pipes more than just bringing them in once a year. Kevin and I broke all kinds of ground in that area. We’ve had many requests for our arrangements from those who have heard our recordings.” When it came to the pipes, Blandford was a painstaking professional.

Discussing the rigors of tuning for the Christmas concerts, where the temperature changes frequently, he said, “You have to know how to set up your instrument for that kind of environment,”. Blandford said there are generally two types of bagpipers: one who struggles to keep tuned in any circumstance, the other is the more advanced player who can tune the instrument.

Yet even for a bagpipe that is warmed up for five-ten minutes and appears to be in tune, could go out of tune once it is set down. “In a concert setting you play your piece and there’s a reading,” he said. “You have to know how to set your instrument without that big long warm-up session.” Tuning for such circumstances is like trying to straddle a fence, he said.

“I’m playing a good half hour before the concert,” he explained. Then he would set the instrument down for about 10 minutes. “When you pick it up again, if it’s still in tune, you’ve done the right job.” Keeping in tune is also about the reeds. “A beginning player just isn’t going to have a very good mastery of reeds to begin with,” he said. He had used the same reed for the Pipes of Christmas. “It’s so stable,” he said with a sense of pride. While he goes through “competition reeds” quickly, the “concert reed” remained strong. “It’s solid, (but) I know eventually it’s going to die,” he said.

The set up for an indoor concert is also different than the more traditional outdoor play. Even advanced players sometimes over tune when moving indoors. “I’ve been playing for 25 years,” he said in 2002. “This is something I’d never be able to do 15 years ago.” Performing outside is more challenging. “A light breeze you might not even notice can make it go flat in five minutes,” he said. “Sun changes the reed like crazy, heat goes sharp.”

Blandford was more than a piper. In addition to his musical talents as a choral singer and as a teacher, he was an open ocean diver and dive instructor.

In an article following his funeral, the San Bernadino County Sun recalled the impact he had on people’s lives. “If we must put a name on it, a gentle passion might fit. For music, for the ocean, and for seeing the worth in other people.”

About the Kevin Ray Blandford Memorial Pipe Band

The R.P. Blandford & Son Pipe Band was formed in 1986 after its original sponsor, the R.P. Blandford & Son, Ltd. British Imports shop. The band began as a small group of twelve pipers and drummers who practiced and performed regularly. The band did not enter its first competition until 1994 at the Costa Mesa (California) Highland Games. By its third competition, the band began a winning streak taking aggregate trophies in Monterey and Pleasanton, CA.

In 1996, the R.P. Blandford & Son Pipe Band was upgraded to Grade 3. The band also continued its Grade 4 band which was awarded the Western United States Pipe Band Association (WUSPBA) Champion of Champions title. In 1998, the band began working with Ian Whitelaw who helped it create a new competitive style. By 1999, the Grade 3 band was winning most of its competitions culminating in also winning the WUSPBA Champion of Champions award.

In 2000, the band competed for the first time in the World Pipe Band Championship in Glasgow, Scotland placing second in their category. In 2002, the Band returned to Scotland and the World Championships placing first in the category of Dress and Deportment. That same year, the band made their debut in the Clan Currie Society’s Pipes of Christmas concert which had earlier featured Pipe Major Blandford since its premiere in 1999. The band continues to play a featured role in the critically-acclaimed concert.

In 2004, the band changed its name to the Kevin Ray Blandford Memorial Pipe Band in memory of the band’s founder and first pipe major. The band now has over forty pipers and drummers in its Grade 3 and Grade 4 bands and continues to grow. Although the Band is based in Redlands, California, it draws members from throughout the United States including all of California, Tennessee, Massachusetts and British Columbia.

Consistent with its policy to travel outside of its local area, in 2005 the Grade 3 band travelled to the Stone Mountain Highland Games in Atlanta, GA, taking home the first place trophy for the Grade 3 competition and the trophy for band of the day. The Band also returned to Scotland for the 2007 World Championships at which it placed 5th. The band is now under the direction of award winning Pipe Major Matt Nonnemacher.


Steven Blake

Steven is experienced with traditional piping, contemporary folk music and composition and possesses a unique style of playing which sets him apart from his peers. A graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Steven is perhaps best known for his work with Scot’s Trad Awards ‘Live Act of the Year 2015’ RURA. In 2020 Steven was appointed to the role of Director of The National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland, bringing his wealth of performance, composition and recording experience to this challenging role.

From his beginnings as a finalist in the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2008 he has set about forging a dynamic performance career across the globe from Japan, India, China to the U.S., Canada and all around Europe- including extensively touring the UK. Steven has performed in large scale line-ups such as The Unusual Suspects to intimate solo spots in chamber concerts. He has appeared at some of the world’s most renowned folk festival stages including Heb Celt, Celtic Connections- at The Old Fruit Market in Glasgow- and Tonder festival in Denmark.

He has also taken the stage as a soloist with quite a few orchestral line-ups including the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Royal Northern College of Music’s Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestra of Scottish Opera and performed with Opera North in the U.K.’s first Opera to include bagpipes in the score. Other notable musical collaborations have included working with legendary Indian musician Rakesh Chaurasia, touring south east Asia with Judy Collins, as well appearing as a soloist with the Band of the Royal Marines and the NZ Army Band.

Steven is a founding member of Tryst, an ensemble of pipers/ composers exploring new writing techniques for a pipe core. Tryst have created a number of special performances, including appearing at the MG Alba Trad Awards, the annual piping concert at Celtic Connections, a special Celtic Connections concert featuring large scale commissions from each member of the ensemble, and the William Kennedy Piping Festival.

Steven’s main project RURA are a multi award-winning act and one of Scotland’s most sought-after folk bands. With three heralded albums, Rura affirm their position as one of Scotland’s leading instrumental groups. Over the years Rura have collected many of the coveted awards in the folk scene including “Up and Coming Act of the Year” at the MG Alba Traditional Music Awards 2012, nominees for ‘Folk Band of the Year‘ 2013 and were nominees BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards for the coveted ‘Horizon‘ award and are this years winners of ‘Live Act of the Year’ and they were nominated for ‘Album of the Year’ in the MG Alba Traditional Music Awards.

Steven has also kept busy as a writer whose portfolio ranges form solo bagpipe repertoire through to scoring for full Symphony Orchestra. In 2014 he took part in Creative Scotland’s ‘20for14’ project in which 20 writers across the arts were commissioned to create art which responded to Glasgow’s hosting of the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Steven’s ‘Bystander’ project culminated in a suite of 5 pieces fusing impressionism with old and modern folk practices which was performed as part of Celtic Connections and released as an album.

He has also served as Musical Director of the Gordon Duncan Experience which is a trad big band project involving young people from various genres. Recently Steven lead the group in a live performance at the Scot’s Music Trad Awards as well as a celebration of Gordon Duncan’s work collaborating with Ross Ainslie and Ali Hutton at the Perth Concert Hall.


Ailis Sutherland

Ailis is a piper and flute player from Kirriemuir, Angus. She started learning the pipes at the age of 9 and was taught by her father Alec Sutherland. Ailis joined her local pipe band in Brechin and started competing in the 2006 season in Grade 4A, progressing quickly with the band’s promotions to Grade 3B and Grade 3A in consecutive years. During her eight seasons with Brechin, Ailis enjoyed success in the solos as a junior and was a member of the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland from 2009 to 2015.

In 2014, Ailis joined Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band and won the Grade 1 World Pipe Band Championships under the direction of Ryan Canning in 2015. Later that year, she moved to South Uist to complete her third and fourth year studies at the University of the Highlands and Islands. There, she learned repertoire and wooden flute technique with Iain MacDonald (Glenuig) and started the folk band “Hecla” (MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards nominees). With Hecla and as a soloist, Ailis has been featured on most of BBC Radio nan Gàidheal and BBC Radio Scotland’s traditional music programmes, including “Pipeline” and “Crunluath.” Ailis graduated with a First Class Honours Degree in Applied Music in August 2018, before moving to Glasgow.

She has been lucky enough to perform at festivals and venues around the world including Noite Celta de Porcía (Asturias), National Celtic Festival (Australia), Festival Interceltique de Lorient (Brittany), Piping Live! Festival (Scotland) and in the Czech Republic, Denmark, Ireland, Norway, Romania, Switzerland and The Netherlands.

Ailis is in demand as a piping and whistle tutor at Fèis Bharraigh (Barra), Fèis Tìr a Eòrna (North Uist) and Fèis Rois (Ross-shire) as well as being one of the smallpipes tutors at Scots Music Group in Edinburgh. Since joining the National Piping Centre team in 2019, Ailis has taught on the Young Stars Schools, the Adult Gathering, Study Abroad programmes at the University of Glasgow and the University of Edinburgh, the Oman Military and Police Force training courses as well as delivering general one-to-one and group lessons.


Finlay MacDonald

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 led him to the post of “Head of Piping Studies” at the National Piping Centre and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. In 2020 he was appointed to the role of Director of Piping at The National Piping Centre where he continues to inspire and develop the very best of 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


David Wilton

David Wilton started learning at the age of 6 under the instruction of P/M Willie Whyte in Montrose R.B.L. Pipe Band. He soon begun solo piping lessons with Walter Drysdale, competing successfully in the junior solos circuit until progressing into the senior level at 17. David has enjoyed solo success over the years; most recently winning the first Capt MacLellan Memorial Piobaireachd medal in the P/A grade; P/A Highland and Island Piobaireachd competition in Oban and the A Grade Rams Horn Snuff Mull Piobaireachd competition in London.

Previously he has placed 3 times in the silver medal at Oban and Inverness before moving up to the Gold medal. David has won the former winners March, Strathspey and Reel Competition at the Scottish Pipers Association competition and has won a prize on every occasion that he has been invited to the Uist and Barra competition as well as continuing to be a force on the Scottish Highland Games Circuit, winning many aggregate titles over the years.

David has a long running pipe band career playing with City of Brechin Pipe Band, Drambuie Kirkliston Pipe Band, The Clan Gregor Society Pipe Band and ScottishPower Pipe Band and Halifax Citadel Pipe Band. During his time he has been part of 2 World Championship winning bands and has 2 Champion of Champions titles amongst other titles. Currently, this is David's first year as Pipe Major of Grade 2 Lomond and Clyde Pipe Band. 

As well as being one of Scotland’s leading pipers, David has, in parallel with his piping career, enjoyed a successful Highland Dancing Career. He has 192 major championship titles including 7 World Championships, 10 Commonwealth, 13 British Championships and has won championships in Scotland, England, Ireland, Canada, USA, Australia and New Zealand. David retired from dancing as the reigning World Champion and had only been beaten 3 times in his senior career, finishing 2nd each time. He is one of the most sought after dance pipers and lecturers in the field, regularly travelling the world imparting his knowledge of music and dance.

In 2011, David graduated from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama with 1st Class honours in Scottish Music – his principal study being the bagpipes with other studies in guitar, whistles and border pipes. During his time at the RSAMD he excelled in course modules such as techniques of teaching, which looked at teaching methods for all ages including children and adults with learning difficulties. As well as a full time instructor of the National Piping Centre, David assists in the co-ordination of CLASP competitions with Margaret Dunn and is on the Board for Piping and Drumming Qualifications.


Alisdair McLaren

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 June Corcoran, 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 11 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.

In 2018 Alisdair was appointed Pipe Sergeant of the Glasgow Police Pipe Band where he is currently developing his skills as a leader of one of the UK’s premier pipe bands.

Outside of the competition arena Alisdair is also the Pipe Major of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo’s house pipe band, The Pipers Trail and has lead the band throughout the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in both 2017 and 2018. In 2017 he was very honoured to have been selected to perform as the lone piper for one of the shows. As a part of the Pipers Trail Alisdair has led the band at the Musikfest Der Bundaswehr, Dusseldorf, Germany 2017 & 2018 and also at the Norsk Militaer Tattoo, Oslo, Norway 2018.

Aside from  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 Edinburgh 70.3, Ironman Wales, Ironman Western Australia and twice raced Challenge Roth in Germany. Recently,  Alisdair completed Ironman Austria which took place in the beautiful town of Klagenfurt.


Margaret Dunn

Margaret began learning the pipes at age 8 and was initially taught by her father Con Houlihan and Stephen Power (ex Scots Guards).

She moved to Scotland in 1998 to attend the Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama where she studied for 4 years and graduated with an Honours Degree in Scottish Traditional Music. While Margaret was at the Academy she joined the Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band, under P/M Robert Mathieson, and with them won the World Pipe Band Championships in Grade 1 in 2000.

Margaret returned as Pipe Major of her local home band, Cullen, in 2006 and in 2007 the band won the World Pipe Band Championships in Grade 3B. The band progressed to grade 2, where they won the All Ireland Pipe Band Championships in 2013.

Margaret is a qualified examiner for the Piping and Drumming Qualifications Board exams (SQA approved) after passing the Institute of Piping Graduate Certificate with distinction in 2004.

Margaret has competed regularly around the Scottish Highland Games circuit and at the Argyllshire Gathering, London and the Northern Meetings. She has also competed in many knockout competitions through-out Scotland. Here are some of her prizes to date include:

  • 1st MacGregor Memorial Piobaireachd (22 and under) Argyllshire Gathering 1999
  • 1st B Grade March, Argyllshire Gathering 1999
  • 1st Strachan Memorial A Grade March Strathspey & Reel, London 2000
  • 1st Duncan Johnstone Memorial Piobaireachd 2001
  • 1st A Grade Strathspey and Reel, Argyllshire Gathering 2003
  • Winner of the Silver Medal at the Northern Meetings 2007
  • 1st A Grade March at the Argyllshire Gathering 2007
  • 5th Former Winners MSR London 2007
  • 5th Former Winners 2/4 March London 2007
  • Islay Inn Knockout Winner 2011
  • Piping for Pints Knockout, Aberdeen 2013
  • Scots Guards Club Knockout Winner 2014

Captain (Retired) Stuart D Samson MBE

Stuart Samson was born in Laurencekirk and has been playing the pipes since the age of 8. He enlisted into the Army in 1978, as a junior piper and joined the Drums and Pipes of The Gordon Highlanders in 1980. He was appointed Pipe Major of the Gordon Highlanders from 1990 – 1994 and then went on to carry out several Pipe Major appointments including the Pipe Major of the Highlanders and the Warrant Officer Class One Senior Pipe Major at the Army School of Bagpipe Music and Highland Drumming. 

He was commissioned in 2002 and was appointed the Director of the Army School of Bagpipe Music and Highland Drumming in April 2003. He was responsible for providing all the structured musical training for pipers and drummers in the British Army as well as advising the Higher Command and Commanding Officers regarding Pipe Band matters. 

During this time he was also responsible as the Director of Army Bagpipe Music, for coordinating the musical programme and display for the Massed Pipes and Drums at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. He has considerable experience in this field having first performed in the Tattoo in 1979 and many times thereafter as a piper and Pipe Major. 

Stuart has also been successful on the solo piping circuit over the years, winning the Silver Medal at the Argyllshire Gathering in 1988 and being placed second in the Gold Medal in both Inverness and Oban in 1995 and 1998 respectively, gaining an invitation to the Glenfiddich Championships in 1998. 

Stuart completed his Army service in April 2008 having served 30 years and was awarded the MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in June of that year in recognition for services to Army Piping and a distinguished career. Stuart is currently a part time Instructor at the National Piping Centre teaching on the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland BA Scottish Music – Piping Degree. In addition to this Stuart is also the Director of Music for the Massed Pipes and Drums at the Basel Tattoo in Switzerland, which takes place annually in July.

Stuart Samson is not available for lessons and teaches only on the BMus Piping Degree. 


Clare Lynas

Clare Lynas started piping at the age of seven in her local pipe band, Boghall and Bathgate Caledonia with PM Bob Martin. Throughout her piping career she has received tuition from Ian Speirs, Ian MacFadyen, Tom Speirs and most recently Roddy MacLeod MBE.

An experienced Grade 1 piper, Clare has played with ScottishPower, 78th Highlanders Halifax Citadel and is a current member of Lomond and Clyde pipe band.

Clare enjoyed a successful solo piping career in the junior circuit gaining entry in to the Silver Medal aged 18. She was a student of The National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music based in Plockton, after which she went on to complete an undergraduate degree in Classical Music at Edinburgh Napier University graduating with First Class Honours. Before starting at the National Piping Centre, she gained a Postgraduate Diploma in Scottish Music from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Her performance background includes piping at the opening of the Scottish Parliament, finale soloist at the Norwegian Military Tattoo and playing an own composition, commissioned by Alexander McCall Smith, at St. Cecilia’s Hall, Edinburgh University. Clare’s vast experience ranges from solo piping, pipe bands and folk ensembles playing whistles, clarinet and piano.


Roddy MacLeod MBE

Roddy MacLeod MBE is the Principal of The National Piping Centre. One of the world’s most accomplished competitive solo pipers, Roddy was tutored by piper and composer Duncan Johnstone and has won all of solo piping’s most coveted awards, many of them several times over. He is in keen international demand as a recitalist, judge and instructor. 

He was Pipe Major of the World renowned Grade 1 ScottishPower Pipe Band from 1995 – 2005 during which time he led them to over 45 Grade 1 Championship prizes in major competition including the Cowal Championships and the All-Ireland Championship. In 2008 he led the Spirit of Scotland Pipe Band to the final of Grade 1 at the World Pipe Band Championships after bringing together a group of the worlds top solo pipers and drummers together for a short period of intensive practice. In 2016 the Spirit of Scotland reformed with Roddy at the helm once more, with lead drummer Jim Kilpatrick. They competed at all 5 major championships, winning prizes at British, UK and European Championships, and qualifed for the final of the World Pipe Band Championships, finishing 8th overall. 

With a strong background in teaching, a dedication to the promotion of standards within piping and a zeal to widen popular appreciation of the pipes, he exemplifies the role, task and standing of The National Piping Centre. Roddy is also a Director and a Founder of Piping Live!, the Glasgow International Piping Festival.

Achievements Include:

  • Awarded MBE for Services to Piping 2003;
  • Winner of the Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Award for Music 2004;
  • Winner, Kishmul Banner composition competition;
  • Inducted into the Traditional Music Awards Hall of Fame 2012

Solo competition prizes include:

  • Glenfiddich Piping Championship, overall winner (5 times), MSR winner (twice), Piobaireachd winner (10 times);
  • Northern Meetings, Inverness – Highland Society of London Gold Medal, Bicentenary Gold Medal and Clasp (2), Former Winners MSR;
  • Argyllshire Gatherings, Oban – Highland Society of London Gold Medal, Senior Piobaireachd (2), Former Winners MSR (2), and Open Jigs;
  • Bratach Gorm (7 times);
  • Silver Chanter (7 times);
  • Gillies Cup Open Piobaireachd, London (9 times);
  • London Medallion Former Winners MSR (5 times);
  • Scottish Piping Society of London overall champion (7 times);
  • National Mod overall champion (5 times);
  • Uist and Barra overall winner (5 times);
  • Donald MacLeod Memorial Competition overall winner (3 times);
  • Springbank Invitational Overall Winner;
  • Dunvegan Medal;
  • Dunvegan Colonel Jock MacDonald Clasp (4 times);
  • Dr Allan MacDonald Cup for overall winner at Skye (3 times);
  • Highland Society of London Gold Medal, overall winner (Skye) (3 times);
  • Dr Dan Reid Invitational overall winner (3 times);
  • G.S McLennan Invitational overall winner;
  • Scottish Pipers Association overall winner (4 times);
  • Scottish Pipers Association Piping Times Knockout winner;
  • Highlands and Islands Festival Invitational Piobaireachd winner (4 times);
  • Clan Donald Quaich winner (twice);
  • Lochaber Tuagh Or Invitational Piobaireachd winner (3 times);
  • Haddo House Quaich Invitational winner;
  • Scotway Garden Festival 20th Century Piobaireachd winner;
  • Scotway Lord Provost of Glasgow’s Competition MSR (3 times);

Recordings include:

  • World’s Greatest Pipers, Volume 6;
  • Pipers of Distinction series (KRL);
  • Piping Centre Recital Series;
  • RSPS “The Last Piper”;
  • Hebridean Piper video.
  • Roddy MacLeod MBE Piobaireachd Volume 1

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 (nee Sinclair) was a very successful solo piper, being the first woman 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 during their rise from Grade 2 to the top end of Grade 1. He played in The Spirit of Scotland Pipe band under Pipe Major Roddy MacLeod.

In 2020 Finlay was appointed to the role of Head Piping Teacher at The National Piping Centre.

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:

  • Glenfiddich Overall Winner 2018 & 2019
  • Donald MacLeod Memorial Overall Winner 2019
  • Uist and Barra Overall Winner 2019
  • Northern Meeting Clasp 2016
  • Northern Meeting Gold Medal 2015
  • Argyllshire Gathering Gold Medal 2012
  • Northern Meeting Silver medal 2006

John Mulhearn

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 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. In 2020 he completed his Masters in piping studies at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and was appointed the Head of Piping Studies, the BMus degree course in Traditional Music – Piping run by The National Piping Centre and Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

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.


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.

On retiring from the police, he worked as a part time instructor at the NPC teaching a range of students working towards SCQF qualifications.In 2016, he became a full time instructor, he holds a level 8 SCQF and is an approved assessor. He is a member of the PDQB and is the PDQB Training Co-ordinator for the NPC.


Dan Nevans

A native of Airdrie, North Lanarkshire in Scotland, Dan was first introduced to piping by his father John before receiving lessons from Bob McFie, Jim Semple, Logan Tannoch, Pipe Major 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 an honours degree in Applied Music from The University of Strathclyde.

In September 2005 Dan joined then Robert Wiseman Dairies’ Vale of Atholl Pipe Band and began his Grade One career. From 2010 to 2019, Dan was a member of Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band, winning the world pipe band championships in 2015. After a year as part of the management team at The Glasgow Police Pipe Band, Dan has taken a hiatus from pipe bands to concentrate on writing a book and recording original music for an album.”


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, Ali Hutton, Jarlath Henderson, Charlie Mckerron, India Alba and has performed with Kate Rusby, Blue Rose Code, Zakir Hussain, Trilok Gurtu, Capercaillie, Shooglenifty, Carl Barat, Papon, Karsh Kale, Flook, Breabach, Soumik Datta, Tim Edey, Patsy Reid and Hamish Napier.

Born in Perthshire in 1983, Ross began his career as a member of the Perth and District Pipe Band, before joining the 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 has 3 solo albums to date Wide Open in 2013, Remembering in 2015 and Sanctuary in 2017, he is currently working on his 4th which is due out in spring 2020.

Prestigious industry recognition has come in the form of a multitude of awards,

Won Best Duo at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards with Ali Hutton in 2017 and Nominated for the same award in 2018.
Nomination for Musician of the Year at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2013, 2016 and 2018.
Nomination for Best Duo at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards with Jarlath Henderson in 2014.
He’s also received various awards at the Scots Trad Music Awards,
Nomination for Instrumentalist of the year in 2010.
Nomination for Live Act of the year with Jarlath Henderson in 2008 and with Treacherous Orchestra in 2009 and 2010.
Nomination for Album of the year in 2013.
Treacherous Orchestra won Album of the year in 2015
Ross was also Composer of the year in 2015.
His debut album ‘Wide Open’ was voted 9th out of 50 Top Scottish Albums of 2013 in the Sunday Herald.


Willie McCallum

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 won some of the major events at the Metro Cup NY, Donald MacLeod Memorial, Springbank Invitational as well as major prizes at Inverness and Oban. His most recent success was winning the MSR contest at the Glenfiddich for the 8th time.

Some other notable career wins are 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.


Andrew began learning the pipes at the age of 9 under the instruction of Pipe Major Archie Campbell at Strathendrick Pipe Band. He also received tuition from Jim Semple and Jim Wark.

Andrew has played in several pipe bands over his career, Black Bottle – PM Don Bradford, Boghall & Bathgate – PM Craig Walker, Clan Gregor – PM David Methven (Grade 2 World Champions), the 52nd Lowland Regiment – PM Gordon Walker and most recently with Lomond & Clyde - PM David Wilton.

In 2008 Andrew was Pipe Major of Dunbarton and District Novice Juvenile Pipe Band winning the Cowal Championships and coming second in the World Championships, winning the piping.

Andrew is also a music instructor for Stirling Council.


Iain is originally from Carlisle, Cumbria and started piping at 12yrs old receiving tuition from his local pipe band.

He joined the Scots Guards in 1984 completing his training at the Guards Depot in Pirbright. During this time he was taught by PMaj’s Dixie Ingram and Jimmy Banks at the Guards Depot Piping School where he completed his first Edinburgh Tattoo in 1985. Iain joined the 1st Battalion Scots Guards soon after and served with the Regiment for 26yrs, being posted in Pirbright, Germany (x2), Windsor, Edinburgh (x3), Wellington Bks in London, several tours of Northern Ireland and the Gulf War. He Served under PMaj’s Rodgers, MacInnes, Webster, MacKinnon, Donaldson and Selwood. During this time Iain played for most members of the Royal Family, as well as Presidents and Heads of State of several countries. He passed his Army Pipe Majors Course at Edinburgh Castle under the direction of Maj Gavin Stoddart MBE, BEM and WO1 Bruce Hitchins BEM in 1997, and was appointed Pipe Major of the Regiment in 2006 after a year as Pipe Sgt at the ASBM & HD.

Iain had may highlights during his Army career playing in and leading the band during tours and Tattoos all around the world, competitions, concerts and many a Beating Retreat and Trooping the Colour.

After leaving the Army in 2010, Iain worked for five years with CVQO an education charity delivering and assessing BTEC Music Diplomas. During this time he also became a volunteer with the Army Cadet Force and took a role as a PMaj Advisor for the Tri Service Cadet Force Pipes and Drums. In 2014 he took over the position as Chief Instructor/Training Officer, and was promoted to Captain in December of that year. This is a role that he continues in today.

Iain is a qualified PDQB Assessor up to Level 8, and holds the PDQB Tutor and Teaching Certificates. He currently sits on the PDQB board, and is the PMaj of the Scots Guards Association Pipes & Drums (Scotland).


Willie Morrison was born and brought up in Locheynart, South Uist, and learned his piping from his grandfather, Donald John Morrison.

At the age of 22, Willie left South Uist where he was a crofter/fisherman to move to Ayrshire where he found work in the Johnny Walker Whisky Distillery and became a member of their famous pipe band. At this time Willie traveled extensively as a representative piper for the company.

As well as being a prolific composer, Willie has excelled in the competition area, winning many prizes including: Former Winners March, Strathspey and Reel at the Argyllshire gathering, March Strathspey & Reel at the Glenfiddich Champioships, Strathspey & Reels, Jigs and Silver Medal at the Northern Meetings and The Piping Times Knockout Competition


Connor Sinclair is a piper from Crieff, Perthshire.

He started learning the Bagpipes from the age of 5, which led to an incredibly successful and varied piping career. An accomplished solo piper, Connor has won many prizes – including the Gold medal at the Northern meeting and winning the MSR at the Glenfiddich in 2019. Connor has also won the World Pipe Band Championships twice as a member of the Grade 1 Field Marshall Montgomery Pipe Band, in both 2014 and 2016.

Having graduated with a degree in Scottish Traditional Music at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Connor focused on bagpipes, whistle and flute, although he also enjoys playing the guitar and mandolin.

Connor’s musical influences are hugely varied and come from being immersed in Scottish music, culture, and history

Photo Courtesy of Derek Maxwell Photography


Andrew Bova

Dr. Andrew Bova began his piping career at the age of 12 in Northwest Ohio under the tutelage of Richard Winslow and Iain Macey. He would go on to receive tuition from the late Alasdair Gillies, Jimmy McIntosh MBE, Andrew Carlisle, and Roddy MacLeod MBE. An avid bandsman, he has played in the Grade 1 Windsor Police Pipe Band, Peel Regional Police Pipe Band, 78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe Band, Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band, and recently joined Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band. Under the direction of Pipe Major Ryan Canning, Andrew was a member of the 2015 World Pipe Band Championship winning Shotts Pipe Band. In addition to his band career, Andrew has been a consistently successful solo competitor, having won prizes in the USA, Canada, and Scotland.

Andrew is an alumnus of Carnegie Mellon University, where he completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts (with honours) and a Master of Music, both in piping performance. In 2021 he was awarded his PhD from the University of St Andrews/The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. His dissertation, Competitive Scottish Bagpipe Repertoire from 1947-2015: Convention, Change, and Innovation, explores the development of competition piping light music repertoire and the decision-making processes of competing pipers. Andrew has presented on his research at universities, academic conferences, and piping workshops; the latter being an influence of his belief in a holistic approach to piping education. As a part of this holistic approach, Andrew’s musical teaching method is heavily influenced by Dalcroze Eurhythmics. Today, Andrew is a piping teacher and Piping and Drumming Qualifications Board assessor for The National Piping Centre in Glasgow.

Andrew’s musical interests and influences extend beyond competitive piping and he has been involved in a number of concerts, recitals, and musical ensembles with performances throughout North America and Europe. He has collaborated with classical orchestras and chamber ensembles on new music premieres and, with his background in classical music, was the Musical Director of the Carnegie Mellon University Flute Choir and served a brief stint as the Assistant Conductor of the Bach Choir of Pittsburgh. Since 2008, Andrew has run a number of fundraiser concerts in the USA for Operation Smile, a charity which helps children born with cleft lips and palates, raising over $15,000 to date.


David Shedden

David, from Glasgow, started playing pipes at the age of 9. Learning first from his father, Stuart, he went on to have lessons at the National Piping Centre. David was fortunate enough to have many brilliant tutors including the late, great Donald MacPherson, whom many regard as the finest piper of the 20th century.

David graduated from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 2015 with a First Class honours degree in Scottish Music. It was while studying at the RCS he developed a love for composition and began playing the whistle.

As a teacher, David began his career leading various classes at the National Piping Centre while still at university. Since then, he has taught for both Falkirk and Glasgow City Councils within schools, as a tutor on the RCS juniors programme and at various workshops and events organised by Fèisean nan Gàidheal. David is also an examiner for the SQA music exams.

As a piper, he has played at the highest level in pipe bands, playing with Grade 1 pipe bands such as Scottish Power, Boghall and Bathgate and the Spirit of Scotland. He enjoyed considerable success as a solo player in both Piobaireachd and light music and is now an in demand folk musician. David is currently the piper and whistle player in the award winning band ‘Assynt’ who have just recorded their second album and are hoping to start touring again after a pandemic induced hiatus.

Away from piping, David is a keen cyclist and is a self-confessed coffee nerd.

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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