This is the UK’s only Bachelor of Music curriculum dedicated to traditional and folk music, and to the music of the Scottish Highland Bagpipe. Aspiring performers on this course explore Scotland’s unique and dynamic musical traditions as a conceptual, critical and creative framework within which to achieve a historically-informed yet distinctively personal voice as a piper and artist. This is interwoven with a solid basis in contemporary and eclectic performance practice.
The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and The National Piping Centre offer a specialist degree that allows pipers to study piping within the context of Scottish traditional music to the highest level. This unique degree offers the chance for students to concentrate on the total study of piping in all forms, whilst also developing their performance under some of the best players in the world. Students receive instruction individually and in small groups and workshop settings. The course includes substantial study of the history, repertoire, traditions, performance practice and organology of the bagpipes, producing expert performers that have a deep understanding of their own, and other, traditions.
The nature of the Highland bagpipe and its repertoire, defined by highly individual and highly complex parameters of performance and musical structure, demands a teaching approach which integrates the instrument with the rest of Scottish traditional music while simultaneously respecting its uniqueness. The piping degree is therefore carefully structured to give the most thorough grounding possible in vital specialisms such as solo piping, piobaireachd, light music, and piping in a folk ensemble context, whilst sharing the same structure and range of contextual curriculum as in the main Traditional Music department. The degree’s core studies in Highland piping extends also to optional tuition in bellows-blown piping and other piping-specific electives, such as piping for dancing, regional Highland piping traditions, comparative European traditions, Gaelic for pipers, and more.
The two academic qualifications share an immense amount of common ground and the institutional emphasis is always on co-operation. This is based on the mutual recognition that a large part of the bagpipe’s future lies in working with other instruments, both from the wider Scottish tradition and beyond.