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Practice time ... South Canterbury Highland Pipe Band drum major Donna Chiles (third from left) watches (from left) side drummer Jasmine Peneamene (15), tenor drummers Savannah Paul (14), Olivia Andreassend (15), Alice Barker (17), bass drummer Natasha Griffin and side drummer Jana Philpott receive tuition from two tutors over Skype on a laptop (obscured). PHOTO: GRETA YEOMAN

by Greta Yeoman

The wonders of the internet are helping the drummers in the South Canterbury Highland Pipe Band.

The three tenor drummers and four side drummers have been taking lessons via Skype with two drummers – one based in Canada and another from Auckland.

Canadian drum tutor Cam Dodson had previously visited the Timaru group, due to his connections with pipe major Scott Shannon, and Hayden McIlroy, of Auckland, had previously commuted from Christchurch to join the band.

Drum major Donna Chiles said the lessons over the internet, which had started about a year and a-half ago, had been beneficial for all those involved.

Previously the sessions for the drum group had been led by senior members of the pipe band, Mrs Chiles said.

The Timaru District Council’s local arts scheme subcommittee provided four months of tutors’ fees through its Creative New Zealand funding allocations in late December. The $925 grant covered four months of the tutors’ weekly lessons from mid-December to late March.

Mrs Chiles said most pipe band contests to which the group travelled were held from January to March each year.

The pipe band would be attending a competition in Dunedin this weekend and was also preparing for a competition in Christchurch next month and the New Zealand Pipe Band Championships in Dunedin late next month.

Smaller groups within the pipe band – which started in 1903 – practise throughout the week at the band’s Turnbull St site.

For more information on the South Canterbury Highland Pipe Band, phone Scott Shannon on (03)615-5788.