Young musicians from Johnstone have beaten lockdown to form an online band for a national competition.

Pipers and drummers have teamed up with other instrumentalists in a bid to win £1,000 and the chance to play with the world famous Red Hot Chilli Pipers.

The event is being staged by a schools piping charity and the Chillis to help keep kids focused on their music while schools are out.

Seventeen bands have got together to make socially distant music and their efforts will be broadcast over the weekend on Facebook with a final on Sunday night. Amongst the bands is The Weekday playing ‘Blinding Lights/Calypso Piper’ by pupils Josh Esson (bagpipes), Noa Burt (piano), Josh McMillan (drums) and Louise Brooks (vocals) all from Johnstone High School.

Head of the Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust Alexandra Duncan said she had been knocked out by the standard of entries for the competition – called Wake up Scotland.

She said: “We had no idea what to expect and have been amazed at the talent on show in these entries. It’s hard enough performing as a band but the kids have had to overcome huge technical challenges to get their efforts sounding so good.”

And Craig Munro from the Red Hot Chilli Pipers said his band was looking forward to playing a gig with the winners.

“We have been off the road for weeks now and are desperate to get back performing – to have one of our first shows playing alongside the winning band will be something to look forward to.”

The final films will be played live on the Chilli’s Facebook page on Friday 26th June and Saturday 27th June at 7.30pm with a grand final on Sunday on the Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust’s Facebook site. Judges include some of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers and the Director of the National Piping Centre in Glasgow Finlay MacDonald. An online people’s vote will decide who gets an additional £500 prize.

Alex Duncan said: “The trust is teaching about 3,500 young people each week in schools across Scotland and we know only too well how desperate young musicians are to keep up with their passion so we were delighted to partner the Chillis in this competition.

“A lot of our tuition programmes have switched to online while the schools are closed but this has been a great chance for people to play together.

“One of our key aims is to show the world how well pipes and drums can sound played alongside other instruments and have schools music departments recognise the contribution our national instruments can make.”

Eight bands will perform tomorrow night with nine taking the stage on Saturday.

The public have all Sunday to cast their votes online with the results being announced at 7.30 on Sunday night.

Craig Munro said: “This competition is an absolute first for Scotland and is a great way of showcasing the talents of our young people at a time they can’t get out to perform.

“I am sure that people are going to be knocked out at the talent on show and the lengths folk have gone to make really entertaining films.”

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Main image photo credit: Red Hot Chilli Pipers