They’re ten years old. They’re from Govan, Nigeria, and China. They can reduce a grown policeman to tears. They might just be the future of Scotland’s urban bagpipes.
The Wee Govan Pipers traces the first 18 months of the new Govan Schools Pipe Band. It’s a heart-warming documentary with a sense of humour and buckets of charm – the perfect way to kick off the New Year.
The kids as they are introduced to the world of competitive piping at the worlds largest Schools Pipe Band Competition. The film gives an insight into what it takes to become a great piper, and a flavour of piping today – as we see the Govan children meet legendary piper Rona Lightfoot, the serial award-winning Greater Glasgow Police Pipe Band, and bag-rockers the Red Hot Chili Pipers. Ewen Henderson of Manran narrated the film and composed the original music.
The upbeat story of the child pipers also exposes the changing face of inner-city Glasgow. Producer Louise Scott says “Govan was once of hotbed of bagpipes, the cradle of the Police Pipe Band. Now the area is host to a new wave of immigrants from all over the world. Wee pipers Nigerian Damilola Fadun and Chinese Brenda Sheng demonstrate the contribution of immigrants to Scottish culture. The film draws parallels with earlier waves of migrants who came from the Highlands and Islands during Govan’s heyday – bringing the bagpipes with them.”
The Wee Govan Pipers also reveals a lively controversy about funding music teaching in Scotland’s schools. “It’s quite shocking that 90% of pupils in State schools in Scotland do not have the opportunity to learn the pipes in the classroom, whereas in private school sector a 100% virtually of pupils do have that opportunity” says David Johnston of the Fair Play for Pipes campaign. Current policy favours classical over traditional instruments – so schoolchildren can get free lessons in glockenspiel or piccolo, but have to pay privately to learn the pipes. The Govan Schools Pipe Band is part-funded by campaigners to give children in deprived areas the chance to learn Scotland’s national instrument.
The Wee Govan Pipers came about after we made a series of short films, and did the branding and social media for Fair Play for Pipes who promote piping in Scottish schools. Every School Needs a Pipe Band won a prestigious award from the Royal Television Society Scotland.
Pìobairean Beaga Bhaile Ghobhainn / The Wee Govan Pipers is available to watch on Vimeo On Demand.