The most recent edition of the ‘Pipe Band Magazine’ powerfully suggests otherwise. In fact, it would seem, the Dollar Academy Pipe Band is perhaps even more of a rare and extraordinary thing than we ever give it credit for being. The January 2018 edition gives both its cover story and a five-page feature to Dollar pipers and their tutors. A full-colour portrait of our own drumming tutor, Steve McWhirter, graces the cover, dwarfed only by the size of the trophy he holds. Mr McWhirter is pictured having just been named the winner of the World Solo Drumming Competition at the Andante-sponsored event held in Glasgow on 21 October. Mr McWhirter also happens to be the Leading Drummer for the Inverary and District Pipe Band, which also holds the Pipe Band World Drumming title. That is, one of Dollar’s drumming tutors has ‘won the double’: the Solo and the Pipe Band World titles. The school is certainly fortunate to have him on its roster of piping and drumming greats—he is as skilled a tutor as he is a drummer.
Turn to page 15, and a long, glowing review of the successes of Dollar Academy’s Juvenile Pipe Band occupies five pages of an article that could not be more praiseworthy of all things Dollar. The lively article celebrates the Band’s tremendous feat last year: winning the ‘Grand Slam’, earning 30 points, by winning each of the five Majors at the intensely competitive Juvenile Grade: ‘whilst not unknown’ this feat is certainly ‘quite rare’. The writer made a special trip to Dollar to investigate the provenance of such piping prowess. The article goes on to laud the remarkable support received by the Pipe Band programme, at every level, and the writer even details the practice regime of the young pipers and drummers, acknowledging ‘hard work beats talent, of course.’ The result is an article that captures both the town and the school in all its essence, celebrating the unique combination of landscape, raw talent and teaching expertise that has helped make the Dollar Academy Pipe Band programme what it is.