A BARRHEAD pipe major who has been stifled by Covid restrictions is hoping to breathe new life into his band with the help of 15 electronic chanters.

The pandemic has proved a difficult time for pipers after the Scottish Government banned group practice sessions due to fears the pipes, and other brass and woodwind instruments, could spray an aerosol of infectious particles into the air.

Keen to find a safer way to practice, Iain Grant, who is leader of Barrhead and District Pipe Band, has launched an appeal to raise £1,500 to cover the cost of the new chanters, which he hopes will allow lessons and rehearsals to resume.

The chanter, which consists of a number of finger holes, is the part of the bagpipe on which the player creates the melody.

Unlike those on regular practice pipes, electronic chanters do not require musicians to blow into the instrument but still allow them to emulate the tone and playing style.

For 48-year-old Iain, this alternative provides the only hope that the band – which was founded in 2013 and staged rehearsals at the United Services Club, in Paisley Road, prior to lockdown – can return to some kind of normality sooner rather than later.

He told the Barrhead News: “We have been building the band up over the past few years but I’m at the stage where I feel like we are going backwards.

“At the moment, we are being told we can’t get back to it because of health and safety until there are things in place.

“We need to find a way to rehearse and the only way is to buy electronic chanters. They are not loud but it’s still enough for us to give instruction and, of course, you can wear a face mask while doing it, so that will make things a bit easier.

“Individually, they cost about £130, so the target of £1,500 should also allow us to buy things like cables or better speakers for the chanters, to give them more volume for rehearsing.”

The band currently has around 34 members, aged from nine to 84, and it is the development of the younger pipers that Iain is particularly concerned about in the current climate.

He added: “Hopefully, these chanters will allow us to bring the kids back in because it is them who are really suffering.

“It’s important for them to try to continue to learn traditional music. Practising and teaching an instrument takes a lot of years and dedication, it is not something you can do quickly overnight.

“It’s important they start as young as they can so they can learn the skills needed by improving the development of their fingers and their musical ability.”