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'Teachers look down on playing bagpipes'

Hundreds of school children are being denied the opportunity to learn the bagpipes by music teachers who look down on Scotland's national instrument, according to pipe band contest organisers.

Edinburgh's state schools offer free tuition in all "mainstream" instruments, including piano and violin, but not in piping and drumming, say the organisers of the Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships.

Parents are being forced to set up their own lessons for children who want to take up the pipes, they say.

Championships convenor David Johnston is concerned that just 60 out of around 2600 schools have signed up for the event next March.

"Quite simply, many classically trained school heads of music look down on the pipes and want nothing to do with them. This means that hundreds of young people desperate to learn pipes and drums in our schools are being denied that opportunity," he said.

"In Edinburgh, for instance, parents in several of the secondary schools have got together and formed after-hours clubs, bringing in teachers at their own expense.

"It seems mad that, in Scotland's capital, city piping and drumming is not on the agenda in the city's state schools yet all the private schools have flourishing bands that bring huge prestige and self-esteem to those schools."

Edinburgh City Council said no funds are available to provide free piping and drumming lessons in schools.

Councillor Paul Godzik said: "There is no funding available to expand the service."

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