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Brian Donaldson

Pipe Major


Brian, from Cardenden in Fife, was taught to play the pipes by his father, Pipe Major Andrew Donaldson, himself a renowned piper and teacher. After leaving school, Brian served his apprenticeship as a bagpipe maker at ‘Inveran House’ Edinburgh, under the guidance of Jimmy Tweedie.

At a young age Brian was playing with the world-famous Dysart & Dundonald pipe band, winning every major championship several times in Grade 1. In 1978, Brian enlisted in the Scots Guards and served with the regiment all over the world. He passed his Pipe Majors course at the Army school of piping, Edinburgh Castle in 1982. After serving in the Falklands war and serving 10 tours of Northern Ireland at the height of the troubles, he was posted to the Army School of Piping as an instructor for 3 years. On his return to the 2nd Battalion, he was promoted to Pipe Sergeant and shortly after the amalgamation of both Battalions in 1993; Brian was promoted to the rank of Pipe Major in 1995.

His tuition skills and playing ability were in demand, and in 1998 he became Pipe Major at the Army Training Regiment Glencourse. Eventually the Military centralized all army piping and drumming, and Brian served out his 22 years teaching at the ‘Army School of Bagpipe Music & Highland Drumming’ in Edinburgh.

Throughout Brian’s military career, he has become one of the most renowned pipers in the British Army, following in the footsteps of Pipe Major Willie Ross and Pipe Major Angus MacDonald. He has achieved an endless list of prizes including the Gold Medal Oban, the Gold medal and 2 Clasps at Skye the Bratach Gorm (The Maccrimmon Banner) London 2nd in the Gold medal at the Northern Meetings 3 times, the Donald Macdonald Quaich, the MSR Argyllshire Gathering 3 times MSR Northern Meetings achieving a double in 1984 winning both MSR competitions at Oban and Inverness in the same year, the MSR London, and numerous invites to the famous Grants/Glenfiddich  whisky invitational competition.

After a successful military career, Brian went full circle, back to his trade as a bagpipe craftsman taking the name of ‘Inveran Bagpipe Makers into the 21st Century, he also moved to the USA where he resides and teaches Bagpipes. After teaching at St Johns Northwestern Military Academy for seven years, he taught at Missouri Military Academy for 2 years before taking up the position of Director of the Pipes and Drums at Virginia Military Institute. He continues to teach and compete at a high level, very much in tune with the ‘Stradivarius’ Great Highland Bagpipe instrument he is playing and produces at the ‘Inveran’ workshop.

Brian Donaldson
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