MUSICAL East Lothian school pupils have “blown away” competition judges in an online bagpipe competition.

Pupils from North Berwick High School and Knox Academy in Haddington joined the Preston Lodge High School Juvenile Band from Prestonpans to enter the Scottish Schools Freestyle Championships, coming a creditable third out of 16 bands and musicians from 46 schools with their rendition of Hallelujah.

The competition, organised by the Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust (SSPDT), was played over three nights on Facebook, with thousands of viewers getting a chance to vote for their favourite, in addition to the official judges.

Alex Duncan, of the SSPDT, said: “This was not just a musical challenge on the part of pupils, but a technical feat on the part of tutors.

“Pupils had to practise solo and film their individual part, in time and in tune, in their own home, after which tutors had to combine all the pupils’ films into one performance using technical mixing platforms.”

Craig Munro, one of the world-famous Red Hot Chilli Pipers and a judge, said: “Line-ups included keyboard, voice, guitar, violin or anything – so long as at least two bagpipes were at the heart of it. We were blown away by the talent of the young people and it was hard to choose the winners.”

Fellow judges were Finlay MacDonald, director of piping at the National Piping Centre, along with composer, broadcaster and musician Gary Innes.

Prizes totalling £2,000 were awarded to the winners.

The SSPDT helps expand piping and drumming in Scotland’s state schools, with cash grants for tuition. It also runs a free bagpipe and concert chanter lending service, and supports paid internships for aspiring tutors.

The competition results can be seen on Facebook at