TRADITIONAL music stars in Kilmacolm have used team spirit and technology to get them through lockdown.

Pupils in the St Columba's School Pipe Band are back practising together live in the school grounds for the first time in more than a year.

Pipers haven't been able to play their full instruments since March 2020 as public health officials fear that the bagpipes could create an 'aerosol' of infectious Covid particles.

So bagpipe instructor Gordon Bruce and the team - drumming instructor Steven Nelson, bass and tenor tutor Louise Augaitis, and piping instructor Kyle Warren - worked to make sure that the pupils adhered to regulations while still developing their talents.

The school provided pipers with digital electronic chanters - devices with sensors which pick up where the pupils place their fingers and play what's produced through a speaker.

These have enabled the pupils to continue to hone their craft while adhering to government guidelines.

The digital chanters weren't the only piece of technology which helped the school community keep in touch during lockdown.

Gordon said: "As soon as the first lockdown hit in March 2020, we were straight onto Microsoft Teams.

"When we were locked down after Christmas again we were back home and onto Teams.

"We were still meeting online for individual lessons and for pipe band practice, so we still had that sense of team spirit.

"It was so important to keep the wellbeing of the pupils intact.

"We have to give credit to the youngsters who turned up online every week.

"They were all very keen."

Over the last few weeks, the pipers and drummers have been able to get outside again and practice as a band.

Drumming instructor Steven Nelson says that lockdown didn't have as much of an impact on his discipline but added that it was important to maintain momentum.

He added: "The restrictions definitely didn't affect us as much but we all still missed being able to practice together.

"We introduced a lot of new material so we were always working on something fresh.

"We were determined to keep every pupil engaged and we're in a very fortunate position in that we have the technology to keep us going."

Although not able to take part in band competitions during 2020 and 2021, individual members have scooped titles in virtual contests all over the world.

The last honour the band took was the Scottish Schools Competition title in 2019 and they're hoping to get back into competitions very soon.

Pupils Ross Findlater and Hector Wedderburn were both due to travel with the school to Tartan Week in New York last month but the event was sadly shelved due to continued restrictions.

The musicians are both delighted to be back.

Ross, who is pipe major in the senior band, said: "Learning from home was definitely a big change for us but we got used it pretty quickly.

"It was a good experience, but it's great to be back playing live."

Lead drummer Hector added: "Music gave us something to focus on during lockdown.

"It's great to be back playing live and seeing everyone again."