Skip Navigation

Education Certificate for Bagpiping Launched

10 May 2012

Government Ministers from both sides of the border have welcomed the launch of a new Ulster-Scots music qualification at Stormont.

The Ulster-Scots Foundation Certificate in Highland Bagpiping was launched last night in the Long Gallery, Parliament Buildings, Belfast, at a reception hosted by North Antrim MLA Mervyn Storey.


The certificate, developed jointly by the Ulster-Scots Agency and the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association (Northern Ireland Branch), is an important step forward in the world of piping because it allows learners to achieve recognition for their progress in learning to play the chanter, essential before they can learn to play the bagpipes.


The launch of the new qualification was hailed by Culture Ministers from Northern Ireland and the Republic.


The Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, Carál Ní Chuilín said “It is fitting that with our strong tradition of piping here in the north the first Foundation Certificate in piping has been developed.  This is a wonderful opportunity for young people who have an interest in music and in piping to have their hard work officially acknowledged. Congratulations to all those students who successfully completed the pilot certificate.”  Speaking at the Launch from the Long Gallery the Minister of State Dinny McGinley TD, said: “This is a very welcome cultural development and I congratulate the Ulster-Scots Agency and the Royal Scottish Band Association (NI) for taking the initiative in promoting the piping tradition and making it more accessible, especially for young people.  I commend the partnership approach that has brought about this development as it underpins the strong cultural and musical links between Northern Ireland and Scotland.


The Stormont event saw the inaugural graduation ceremony, when the first 28 students to complete the qualification received their certificates from Ulster-Scots Agency Chairman Tom Scott and RSPBA President George Ussher.


George Ussher expressed his delight at the graduation of the new students: “The RSPBA is extremely pleased with the outcome of our latest collaboration with the Ulster-Scots Agency.  Northern Ireland is the first part of the piping world to develop a qualification like this and we are certain that it will help us to recruit new people to participate in and enjoy the piping tradition in Ulster.”


Tom Scott, added, “The Pipe Band fraternity is a global phenomenon with hundreds of thousands of enthusiasts around the world.  The local movement provides some of the best bands in the world, which are a great Ulster-Scots cultural export.  The Ulster-Scots Agency is delighted to have supported this development as part of our ongoing support for the piping tradition, working in partnership with the RSPBA NI.”

Andy McGregor is the piping tutor for the Ulster-Scots Agency, he stated that: “The teaching programme being run by the Ulster-Scots Agency is a fantastic opportunity for young people to become involved in the piping community.  With support from the Ulster-Scots Agency and the expertise of the RSPBA NI Branch this programme can grow and be a success for years to come.”


The graduates were drawn from a number of schools including Ballyvester Primary School, Castlederg High School, Clounagh Junior High School, Drumlegagh Primary School, Fivemiletown Primary School, Fivemiletown College and Newtownstewart Model Primary School.  Several also completed their certificate through attending the RSPBA (NI) Branch School.