Gilnahirk Pipe Band

Formed 1919

RSPBA Tonal Balance Workshop

The Band was proud to be asked to host a workshop for local bands by the Northern Ireland Branch of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association and the big event took place last night, 12th March.

The Branch has promoted a number of similar events across Northern Ireland and it was a well-thought out programme, ably fronted  by the indefatigable Winston Pollock (of Monkstown Mossley fame).

The Hall was well filled with both Gilnahirk players and a number of very welcome guests from local bands who had been invited along to share the evening.

The expertise bestowed on us came in the the form of two top-class players from the dizzying heights of Grade One. The pipers were treated to a master-class from David Chesney, who needs absolutely no introduction. He patiently worked with the players to improve sound from chanters and drones and answered every question asked of him, explaining every step he was taking so that the pipers should be able to replicate the process when left to their own devices.

The drummers were by no means left out. Their expert tutor was Neil Ussher of Ravara fame. Again, Neil was completely approachable and no query was too basic. He worked his magic with the drums and again took it slowly, explaining each step and illustrating his points by referencing his own experiences in the pipe band world.

The drummers were also treated to an old boy of Gilnahirk making an appearance. Graham Turner started his drumming career with Gilnahirk and went on to achieve huge success, perhaps most notably with Ballycoan. The benefit of having Graham along as well as Neil was plain to see.

A feature of the night was the great grace of the experts in sharing their own tips and tricks. There was a great sense of working together toward a common goal - a great sound.

After the gurus had worked their magic, the band was pulled back together to play a couple of tunes - and the difference was clear to all present. The balance of the band had improved immeasurably and several of the guests commented that they had not heard Gilnahirk produce such a great sound for many years.

After a cup of tea and the chance for some informal chat, the evening was rounded off with a Question and Answer session, which probably could have gone on all night! The questions ranged much wider than the issue of "tonal balance" and the topics included recruitment for lower grade bands, pitch and equipment choices. By 11.30pm, everyone started to realise that they had to go to work in the morning and the night was drawn to a close!

The Band would like to record formally its gratitude to the Branch for asking us to host this incredibly useful event. Winston, David and Neil gave generously of themselves and Gilnahirk will be a better band for the experience - we thank you all, gentlemen. The Branch has taken a bold step to work with bands to improve the general standard of play and sound - and they should be warmly congratulated for doing so. We certainly hope that this is not the last time that we will have the chance to stage such an event.