• PBA

Recognition for education and training


Recognising contributions for the pipe band movement through education and training

The initial 12 recipients of the award are:

· Alex McCormick – After a career as a one of Scotland’s leading drummers and principal of the RSPBA college, Alex emigrated to Australia in 1952 with several other prominent players of the time to reform Castlemaine Pipe Band in regional Victoria, which was importing the leaders of a new band, before turning to Melbourne and later Ballarat. Alex and his compatriots brought with them from Scotland the style of drumming that caused a revolution in the Australian pipe band world. From 1949 to 1952, he was Principal of Drumming at the Scottish Pipe Band Association College. In this position he was involved as a teacher and also in the development of the syllabus. After he emigrated, he kept this up by carrying out SPBA College examinations in Australia for a time. He taught all over Australia and was a leading proponent of the idea of an Australian college examination system. This did not happen until 1967, when Alex became the founding Principal Drumming of the Australian Pipe Band College, a position he held until 1979. Alex was an excellent drumming adjudicator and was a driving force involved with an early attempt to bring ensemble adjudication to Australia in the early 1990s, conducting trials at competitions in Victoria. Alexander McCormick is rightly recognised as one of the pipe band world’s most influential leaders, and one of the founding fathers of modern pipe band drumming. His impact on all those he taught and anyone with whom he came into contact in the pipe band scene and beyond is indelible.

· Allan Chatto OAM – Initially joining St George District Pipe Band as a learner piper, Allan found greater interest in drumming and over more than 50 years has taken his skills to high levels and shared them around the world as a teacher, tutor, adjudicator and educator. Allan is believed to have been the first Australian admitted a drumming adjudicator with RSPBA and was Principal Drumming in Australia for eights years, having achieved qualifications both here and in Scotland. As an adjudicator, Allan judged across Australia and also in the UK, including at the World Pipe Band Championships. Allan has written a number of books on pipe band drumming that received international recognition and was active in reviewing, refining and updating the Australian training syllabus, the preparation of instruction manuals, writing new massed band drum scores. He was active for many years in presenting workshops and lectures in Australia and New Zealand. During his playing career, Allan performed with top Australian bands and guested with bands in New Zealand and Scotland. He studied the development of pipe band drumming and its personalities with many of his definitive, technical and historical articles being published Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, Canada, USA, Spain and Switzerland

· Harold Gillespie - Began his drumming career in 1961 aged 9 with Mitcham Pipe Band before joining Nunawading, Hawthorn and Victoria Police in Australia and Ballynahinch in Northern Ireland. Harold’s extensive record of sustained success and achievement in pipe band circles is one of outstanding and unparalleled excellence. A combination of expert drumming technique and styles have contributed to Harold’s wealth of knowledge which he has passed on throughout his years of leadership, band and personal tuition, workshops and adjudication. Harold’s many years of playing, leadership, teaching and mentorship see him as most highly respected and admired drummer, both nationally and internationally. A former vice-principal drumming where he conducted training and examinations and RSPBA international panel adjudicator, Harold has assisted many bands through workshops and mentoring. Every drum score imparted was his original composition to all bands instructed. Several bands including Grade 1 UK bands have used or copied these drum scores. His influence on several generations of students at Haileybury is evident with successes in band championships over 20 years plus solo championship achievements.

· Brett Tidswell - He has a long and respected history as an educator of pipers at the highest of levels and has been Principal Piping in Australia since 2003 overseeing development of education and training for pipers and adjudicators. He was employed as a piping instructor in the Defence Force and for some years has been a full-time bagpipe teacher; in 1991 he was asked to take on the role of pipe major of the newly formed, City of Adelaide Pipe Band. That band seven years later was crowned Australian champions. Brett is a soloist of international renown with many competition successes and a demand to perform at recitals around the world. His students also have a history of such success, with many solo prizes and band championships to their credit. He is author of the acclaimed The Complete Pipers Handbook and his technical articles have been published in some of the world including New Zealand, USA, Canada and Scotland.

· Donald Blair – The influence of Warrnambool’s Donald Blair as a pipe tutor and educator has spread around Australia and internationally over the decades. He was a pioneering tutor of Victorian Certificate of Education (Year 12) piping students and continues to tutor students from far away using skype and other technology. Donald was a co-founder of the South West Coast Piper Drummer Dancer Workshop held annually in Warrnambool for the past 17 years and has tutored at national schools and for bands in Victoria and South Australia. The Warrnambool “nursery” has attracted generations of aspiring pipers and sent those pipers out to the world as soloists and band players.

· Nat Russell GC OAM – Since arriving in Australia in 1987, Nat has been a leader in education and training in Australia and extending engagement in the development of pipe bands in the Southern Hemisphere, particularly in the areas of piping and ensemble. Nat set up the Victoria Police Piping and Drumming School in Melbourne in 1988 in conjunction with the Council of Adult Education. This programme had some 99 participants, including the conductor of the Victorian State Opera who wanted to learn more about woodwind instruments and the effect on ensemble. Nat served as vice-principal of piping in Victoria for 15 years, teaching and examining candidates for Certification and Adjudication training in piping and ensemble. He has also conducted numerous workshops and seminar while also tutoring and assisting bands.

· Lewis MacLennan jnr BEM – Another of the famous MacLennans, the activities of Lewis jnr brought benefits to piping in several states. After World War Two, when he served in the army, Lewis was pipe major of the new Perth Highland formed by ex-servicemen and also established a band at Scotch College Perth. He re-enlisted in the Australian Army and accepted a posting to New Guinea, where he established the Pacific Island Regiment Pipe Band, returning to Perth six years later to resume with Perth Highland and Scotch College with both achieving success over the following 15 years. He retired to Terang, Victoria, in 1978 where he tutored the local band before spending his final years in Melbourne.

· Ron Gallacher OAM – Pipe major of Hawthorn City Pipe Band on several occasions, Ron was 20 years Principal Piping in Australia and an influential driver in developing the adjudicator training syllabus and adjudicator handbook. He was active in fostering education and training for many bands across Victoria and Australia and also an early advocate and participant in sharing knowledge of Australia pipers and bands into South-East Asia. As pipe major of Hawthorn, Ron imparted his knowledge on many pipers that was then taken to other bands across Australia and continues to influence the music of today.

· Donald Patterson – An icon of pipe tutors in a small country area who inspired generations of young people to begin and continue their journey after leaving “the bush” was Don Patterson. He joined the Naracoorte Highland Pipe Band in as a learner piper at aged 11and became pipe major in 1971, bringing many pipers through to the playing ranks. He ensured connection between city and country - serving as South Australian branch chairman and organising competitions for player skill development.

· Danny McPherson - After serving in the Boer War with the Seaforths, he worked at the bagpipe makers Peter Henderson and Sons of Glasgow repairing pipes before emigrating to Australia before World War One. After service again, he returned to Australia and began travelling with bagpipes – in 1919 he was with Ballarat Caledonian Society Pipe Band as ‘Assistant Pipe Major’, though more likely as a tutor, and then in 1922 as founding pipe major of the Mildura and District Pipe Band. In 1926 he moved to Millicent, South Australia, and formed that town’s pipe band, later moving to Melbourne with the Royal Caledonian Society Pipe Band and following World War Two accepted the role of tutor to establish the first Scotch College band. Retirement in 1957 was short-lived with Danny accepting the role of establishing the pipes program at Haileybury College until his death two years later.

· Doug Thoreson – Beginning his piping career in his native New Zealand, Doug has contributed to education and training of pipers in the Australian Army where he was director of pipe music and in community bands, passing on skills attained completing the pipe major course at Edinburgh Castle and through decades of involvement in the movement. Following his army career, Doug joined Queensland Police Pipe Band and also travelled the breadth of the state teaching pipers in the art of solo and band playing and acting as a resource for knowledge on the instrument and its music.

· William Bruce - Over the years, Australian and World Championships results have been attained by pipers as a direct result of the excellent tuition and leadership provided by Bill. He spent his time unselfishly teaching children and bands to play and he developed each of his students into fine piper and developed a number of future pipe majors of leading bands in Australia. Bill was closely associated with Moorabbin band which today wears the tartan named in his honour.

All award recipients in this category become eligible for induction into the Pipe Bands Australia Hall of Fame. In each two-year period, a maximum of two new recipients of this award will be named.

#Honours #Awards

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