In 1866 the Anglican Diocese of Goulburn established a Grammar School in Albury with fourteen pupils. This school was eventually absorbed into the privately run Albury High School and in 1902 changed its name to the Albury Grammar School.
In 1929 the school came under the auspices of the Presbyterian Church and became a Grammar School solely for boys. A Cadet Unit was formed at the school in 1939 and the school’s first band of two drums and two bugles was established.
It remained as a drum band until 1956 and with the introduction that year of bagpipes it became the Grammar School Pipes and Drums. The Cadet unit and Band adopted the Gordon Tartan and the Glengarry as its uniform, which in 1965 was worn in public for the first time.
In 1972 the School was amalgamated with Woodstock Presbyterian School for Girls. By 1975 due to a lack of male recruits, interested girls were admitted to the band for the first time and remained as part of its composition.
Official funding for school cadets had ceased and there-after the Cadet Unit and Band operated on a voluntary basis until the Cadet Unit disbanded in 1982. The school, determined to continue with a pipe band, had engaged a tutor and co-ordinator for the band in 1980.
In 2014 the pipe band made its first international trip, performing at the Jakarta Highland Gathering where it was crowned South East Asian Champions in the Juvenile grade, a feat that it repeated in 2015. In August 2014, members of the band travelled to Scotland to compete at several competitions including the World Pipe Band Championships. The trip provided an incredible musical experience for the pipe band students and exposed them to many world class bands that rarely perform in Australia. In October 2014, still buzzing from its adventure in Scotland, the pipe band travelled to Canberra for the 2014 ACT Championships where it was crowned champions in the grade 4 competition.
2016 saw the pipe band vying for national championships on either side of the Tasman. In March the band travelled to the North Island township of Feilding for the New Zealand Pipe Band Championships, competing against many polished bands in both the grade 4 and Juvenile competitions. One of the highlights of the trip was the band’s grade 4 mid-section drummers (bass and tenor drums) winning the best mid-section prize in the grade 4 competition; a fantastic achievement against some tough competition. History was made in October when the pipe band competed for the first time at the 2016 Australian Pipe Band Championships. Although several members of the band had previously competed at the Nationals as members of other bands, this was the first time The Scots School Albury Pipe Band had competed as its own entity. The band finished 4th in the grade 4 competition in a pool of 23 bands and 5th in the Juvenile grade which featured some of the top young piping and drumming talent from across Australia and New Zealand.
The pipe band played a pivotal role in celebrating the school’s sesquicentennial year in 2016 when it proudly performed at The Scots School Albury’s 150th Anniversary Highland Gathering and Tattoo. The event drew over 4,000 people to the school grounds and the crowd was treated to a great range of entertainment including pipe bands, highland dancing, clan tents, kilted warriors and a delicious selection of food.
The band performs at countless community events across the border region and beyond every year and has proudly represented the school at competitions across New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT. In a single year, the Pipe Band can conduct up to 50 Band and solo performances – an extraordinary achievement.
The band currently has 32 players registered with the Australian Pipe Band Association for the purposes of competing at Association competitions and there are 56 pupils attending piping and drumming tuition each week.
2017 The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
This year The Scots School Albury Pipe Band will be taking part in The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is an annual series of military tattoos performed by British Armed Forces, Commonwealth and international military bands and artistic performance teams on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle in the capital of Scotland. The event is held each August as part of the Edinburgh Festival and it is viewed live by around 220,000 spectators each year and attracts a global television audience of over 100 million people.
Tattoo Fact # 1: The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo has never cancelled a show in 67 years.
Tattoo Fact # 2: Regular Edinburgh Tattoo performers The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards are the only Pipe Band in history to have a number 1 single on the British Pop charts. The Dragoon’s topped the charts for 5 weeks in 1972 with their now famous rendition of ‘Amazing Grace’ which sold 7 Million copies world wide.
Tattoo Fact # 3: The gradient of the esplanade at Edinburgh Castle where the Tattoo is performed is 27 degrees.
Tattoo Fact # 4: The first lone piper to perform at the Tattoo was Pipe Major George Stoddart in 1950.
Tattoo Fact # 5: Being 66 years old, the Tattoo only rarely achieves a ‘first’. However, in 2016 Lance Bombardier Megan Beveridge was the first serving female soldier to be Lone Piper at the Tattoo.
If you would like to support the pipe band and be part of their journey to the 2017 Edinburgh Tattoo then see the flyer to find out how you can contribute to this exciting, once in a lifetime experience.
Mr Scott Nicolson: Pipe Band Major
Scott is originally from New Zealand and was taught by Pipe Major John Downie of the City of Auckland Pipe Band. After completing a Bachelor of Marketing and Management, Scott relocated to Edinburgh and played with the Drambuie Kirkliston Pipe Band for that competition season. In 1998, Scott returned to Perth, Western Australia, to take up a full-time position with the Western Australian Police Pipe Band. Scott was part of the team that won the 1998 World Pipe Band Championships Grade 2. In 2001 Scott relocated to Sydney and took on the role of Pipe Major with the St Mary’s District Band Club Pipes and Drums and later The Pipeband Club. For the next six years the band made a steady rise back to Grade 1, along the way winning the Australian Championships Grade 2 (2006), Grade 1 (2008 & 2010) and two third places in the 2006 and 2007 World Pipe Band Championships, Grade 2. Scott started as the Pipe Band Coordinator at The Scots School Albury in 2013.
Mr Tom Mewett: Drum Tutor
Tom began his drumming journey in 1995 as a year 7 student at Eaglehawk Secondary College in Bendigo. In 1997 Tom was introduced to the world of Scottish snare drumming. Tom competed with the Golden City Pipe Band between 1998-2010 where he was fortunate enough to win two national Drum Corps titles and two New Zealand Pipe Band Championships in 2006 and 2009. In 2010, Tom joined the University of Ballarat Pipe Band (now Federation University Pipe Band) where he enjoyed 4 very successful seasons competing in grade 2 and grade 3 with the highlight winning the national drum corps title in grade 3 at the 2014 Australia Pipe Band Championships. In 2015, Tom joined the City of Whitehorse Pipe Band based in Melbourne. The band were crowned Victorian champions in 2015 in grade 2 and took out the title again in 2016 after being upgraded to grade 1. Tom is currently taking a break from competition to concentrate on his commitments with The Scots School Albury Pipe Band.