About Neil Ross MacLure of Grantown on Spey
Highland Piper and Piping Tutor by J.N.C. Moore
"I first met Neil in York, England in the mid-1970s where we discovered a common interest in the music of the Great Highland War Pipe or Scottish bagpipe as it is more usually described.
Neil’s upbringing in the Scottish Highlands was steeped in the culture, language, dance and music of that region. His mother was an enthusiastic and proficient self-taught fiddle player and Neil was introduced to Gaelic singing and highland dancing as a child.
At a young age he was taken to Pipe Major Ian Fraser late of the Cameron Highlanders, then a farmer, who taught Neil on the chanter and bagpipes.
Neil went up to University and joined the Pipes and Drums of the Edinburgh University Officer Training Corps.
When work took him to England, he became an enthusiastic member of the Piping Society of York, a group of fellow highland pipers and learners who met weekly to encourage solo piping and share music and stories.
It was at this time that I met the man and he invited me to the Society.
My repertoire at the time was limited to a few simple military marches and slow airs played at infantry pace.
As well as the strathspeys, reels, jigs and hornpipes Neil introduced me to Ceol Mor the classical music of the highland bagpipe, hearing him play the tunes at the society and loaning me recordings of famous pipers.
At that time Neil was also teaching some local scouts and a young German Language assistant. The two young scouts progressed steadily and became members of the newly formed City of York Pipe Band, one progressing to outpoint Neil in a solo piping competition, the other going on to play and compete with a world championship pipe band.
Joerg, the young German Assistant practiced hard and with Neil’s tuition and help he was playing the pipes within a couple of months, an exceptional achievement. He was able to line up with the newly formed pipe band. Joerg was also a prodigious, proficient and prolific composer of pipe music and one of his compositions was published in the prestigious Piping Times.
Neil went on to become co-founder, chairman and pipe sergeant of the City of York Pipe Band where he helped bring on many new piping recruits of all ages.
Neil searched out a piping school at Sabhal Mor Ostaig on the Isle of Skye and enabled a number of the York pipers to be treated to an intensive week of tuition in Ceol Mor and Ceol Beag from world class tutors including Pipe Major Evan MacRae, a piobaireachd gold medalist, Pipe Major Andrew Venters of the Queens Own Highlanders and Pipe Major Davie Garrett of the Kings Own Scottish Borderers.
Neil has continued to tutor and encourage pipers from around the world via the internet.
Latterly Neil himself took tuition from Major Gordon Rowan of the Army School of Piping in Edinburgh and was encouraged to enter the CLASP solo piping contest winning medals for his Piobaireachd, Jig and 6/8 March, no mean feat for his first solo contest in thirty five years.
Neil encouraged me to attend the CLASP workshop at the National Piping Centre in Glasgow and play in the solos.
With Neil’s advice, support and encouragement I progressed to win the gold medal at Inchdrewer House, the Army School of piping playing the famous piobaireachd, “ An Daorach Beag” or the Wee Spree, a funereal lament judged by Ross MacCrindle, principal Pipe Major of the Scots Guards. A great result.
Without Neil’s help and support I would never have done it.
Many tutors can be bullying, impatient, dictatorial and dogmatic, an all too prevalent and unpleasant style of instruction.
Neil’s teaching style, however, is quite the opposite being enabling, supportive and encouraging. He has the rare ability to bring out the best in aspiring pipers."
Joe Moore June 30th, 2019