“This far exceeded my expectations — this is the kind of school I had always imagined would be really wonderful, but until now I didn’t think possible or realistic.” Sandy Smith, California session student

“Best time I had at a piping school in years.” Paul Hinson, Illinois session student

Balmoral School East Stroudsburg PA session, 2016
Dear pipers and drummers,

Balmoral School of Piping & Drumming’s 2017 summer sessions present excellent opportunities for pipers and drummers to improve their knowledge and skills through intensive, personalized instruction in small groups with master instructors.

This year, we are also offering school-wide informational sessions on such topics as:

For pipers:
• Producing a quality tone with your instrument
• Improving sight reading skills
• How to efficiently memorize music
• Drumming fundamentals for pipers
• Putting expression in your music
• Choosing tunes & preparing for a competition
• An introduction to piobaireachd
• Understanding the pipe band drum section
• Playing the bagpipe for dancers
• Playing the bagpipes with other melodic instruments
• Matching reeds and chanters
• Massed band sessions
• A primer for pipe majors
• Evening music sessions and instructor recitals
• Intro to advanced classes in bellows smallpiping

For drummers:
• Group and one-on-one sessions covering fundamentals of drumming technique on snare, tenor, and bass drum
• Personal instruction on simple-time and compound-time tunes, covering marches, strathspeys, reels, hornpipes and jigs
• Special emphasis on phrasing and playing with rhythm
• Massed band sessions coordinating pipers and drummers, including the fundamentals of tuning the drums to the pipes and playing in unison
• Tenor drum rhythm & flourishing
• Principals of quality bass drumming
• The instructor will personally review each student's progress, and give him/her instruction on how to improve drumming accompaniment to his/her band tunes
• Instructor will, upon request, review and/or modify drum scores for particular tunes or medleys

Balmoral School supports the Progressive Certification Program (PCP) recently established by the Eastern US Pipe Band Association, which issues certificates in bagpiping and snare, tenor, and bass drumming attesting to skill level, upon successful completion of examinations.  If you are interested in preparing and being examined for a PCP certificate while attending the session, please let us know at your earliest convenience. The non-competitive exams consist of a practical and playing portion to show mastery of rudiments, repertoire and written or verbal questions on maintenance and musical theory. The certificates are intended to be objective indicators of skill levels.  The EUSPBA does not require membership for certification, but it does charge a fee for the examination. For more information, see EUSPBA’s Progressive Certification Program.

As with all Balmoral School summer sessions, we welcome students at all ages and levels of expertise, soloists and band members alike. We are mindful that piping and drumming are non-competitive community activities for many. We serve our purpose by instructing students to become better musicians, whatever age, skill level, solo or band member, competitive or not. We firmly believe that the Balmoral School is the best place for improvement to happen.

The 11th Annual Balmoral Classic will be held November 17-18, 2017 in Pittsburgh. Pipers and drummers age 21 years and under who have competed with success in the upper amateur grades are encouraged to submit an application to compete for the title of US Junior Champion. The featured artist for the evening concert will be Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas

Items of interest: Piper Bill Millin interview describing his fascinating experiences on Normandy Beach on D-Day, including the tunes he played. We encourage support of the fund to erect a statue in memory of Bill Millin on Normandy Beach.

Also recommended: When Piping Was Strong, a new book by Joshua Dickson, subtitled ‘Tradition, Change, and Bagpipe in South Uist.’ A fascinating account of the role of piping and pipers in Hebridean life and how it has changed over time.

I hope you will join us this year at a summer session or at the Balmoral Classic!

Best wishes for good piping and drumming in 2017!

George Balderose
Executive Director