Northern Winter School, Germany


Just back from Germany where we had an excellent school at Lohheide in Lower Saxony (see pic above). I took the piobaireachd class and very successful it was too with the students able to perform Duncan MacRae of Kintail’s Lament within a couple of days of learning it and we played it at the concert too.

Prior to the camp I was asked to say a few words about the ethos employed at these schools and I think the following sums it up. This appeared on our sister academy in South Florida’s site a couple of weeks ago:

‘Two of our instructors, Principal Robert Wallace and Senior Instructor Barry Donaldson, are in Germany this week (November 11 -17) at a teaching academy at Lohheide in Lower Saxony. Barry and Rob are long acquainted with the teaching of piping in that country having started there ten years ago. Those who know them will have experienced the knowledge they bring to these schools and our South Florida Academy is no different. Though experts in their field, Rob and Barry have endless patience, even with the beginner classes – they know how to get the best out of their students and it is with a considered and thoughtful approach rather than a heavy-handed set of instructions that works every time.

As Rob says: ‘You don’t get anywhere by giving students a difficult time. They are paying their money for world-class instruction and that instruction means taking time to look at their personal difficulties and finding a solution to them. Every student has their own level, their own goal. We give them reasonable targets to reach, encouraging a gradual improvement along the way. Piping teaching is all about learning a new skill, practising it hard and then building on it. Years of experience have taught us that this is the way to go. NWS Piob Class 2017

‘Learning has to be fun; it has to be enjoyable. We like our students to feel part of the Academy not knocking on the outside door trying to get in. Everyone is treated with the same courtesy and consideration be they Grade 1 professional or beginner amateur. That’s how we do it in Germany and Florida and at our sister Academy in New England. It works wherever it is applied and good, happy students are the result. We want everyone to leave our academies with a positive experience not feeling that they have an impossible mountain to climb. With our enhanced faculty, South Florida Pipe and Drum Academy 2018 is going to be the best ever and I’d like to welcome Andrew Elliot (bass and tenor) and Jack Williamson (beginner piping) to the fold. See you all in February.’

I hope some of the NEPADA gang can make it down to Fort Lauderdale. I know Brigid is thinking about it so that’s great news. All the best for now and here’s to some sunshine!


Author: Editor

Robert Wallace is an award winning piper, writer and journalist.

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