Their skirl has terrified foes as much as it has enchanted friends.

Over the centuries, bagpipes – notwithstanding piercing squeals – have come to symbolise Scotland, not least

as we see out the old year and see in

the new.

Now, however, there are fears for the future of traditional pipe bands as youngsters, despite a huge desire, struggle to get opportunities to learn

the instrument.

The Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust (SSPDT) says some 30,000 young Scots would learn to play pipes and drums if they had the chance

Yet only 6,000 are doing so.

That, said SSPDT, is because opportunities to learn piping have disappeared in many communities when local pipe bands have folded and tuition has also stopped in the area’s schools.

SSPDT, in partnership with councils, education authorities, schools and local communities, is set on a mission to bring the opportunity to learn pipes and drums to thousands of youngsters across the country.

By developing local and long-term models of learning from an early age and into further education and adulthood, the charity aims to help

to bring back the instrument to communities, and to give every young person in Scotland the chance to learn.

The crisis in piping reflects a wider crisis in school music lessons.

Research commissioned by Creative Scotland and conducted by the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland found that more than 100,000 pupils want to learn an instrument at school but are unable to do so.

Based on the popularity of the pipes and drums whenever SSPDT helps to introduce them to schools, it estimates between 30,000 and - 54,000 pupils would want to learn to play., but However, only 6,000 are doing solearning in state schools across Scotland.

Alexandra Duncan, chief executive of SSPDT, said: “It’s clear that there is a huge unmet demand to learn pipes and drums amongst Scotland’s pupils.

“When bands in our towns and communities vanish quietly, and when there is no tuition in local schools either, we lose a precious cycle of teaching and learning – and it’s this silent decline that we’re trying to address with partners.

“Both Moffat and Girvan had local pipe bands which folded in recent years.

“But by helping to introduce tuition to surrounding schools we hope to be able to resurrect these pipe bands together with the communities.

“In the Garnock Valley, a pipe band was last heard 60 plus years ago, until more than 100 pupils began to learn and now play together.

“In areas like Lossiemouth, Elgin, Forres, Duns, Kinross and Blairgowrie, new tuition programmes are being set up to boost community pipe bands.

“Piping and being part of a band gives young people a sense of belonging and develops a wide range of life and employability skills including teamwork, individual and shared achievement, discipline, commitment and self-confidence.

“We believe it can change lots of young people’s lives for the better.”

Ms Duncan added that, even where the pipes and drums are offered to pupils after they have had the chance to take up different instruments, demand is very high.

For example, in Kilmarnock, the pipes and drums are only offered to pupils who have not already taken up other instruments.

Yet more than 180 pupils are choosing to learn the pipes and drums in local schools in the town.

“We believe that traditional music should be cherished and the skill to play the pipes has the potential to become one’s lifetime pleasure,” she added.

“The demand we have seen so far proves that piping and drumming is still popular but the lack of opportunities for learning puts it at risk – there is still a lot of work to be done.

“We are grateful to the parents, schools and local authorities that are working with us to overcome this disadvantage.”

The Trust has helped 47 schools pipe bands to form so far, building on tuition provided in 265 schools.

It also supports existing youth and school pipe bands with grants and the free use of bagpipes. It is currently supporting Projects in 22 local authority areas are currently in receipt of assistance.

Scotland, contrary to popular and international belief, did not invent

the pipes.

As early as 400 BC, the “pipes of Thebes” were played in Ancient Egypt.

Whoever invented them, we owned them. The original Highland pipes probably had a single drone, with a second drone added in the mid-1500s.

The third, orthe great, drone, (it looks as it sounds) came into use some time in the early 1700s.

The first recorded entrance of the pipes as an instrument of war was in the last full-scale battle against the English which, closer to home, also involved religion.

The occasion was the Battle of Pinkie, which took place outside Musselburgh in 1547.