George Watson's College Pipes and Drums have three bands of varying ability under the leadership of Pipe Major Iain Simpson and Drum Major Michael O'Neill who are ably assisted by three part time teachers. There are currently over 170 children b Competing all over the UK at Juvenile and Novice Juvenile level, the Pipes and Drums are now one of the most successful teaching establishments in the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association. They are current World Champions in the Juvenile grade. They have also won the Champion of Champions award on numerous occasions.
The Pipes and Drums perform mainly at school functions however are in huge demand to play at other events including The Great Scottish Walk, Concerts and other Corporate Events. They have also travelled to various countries, performing in Canada, Japan, Belgium and Russia where they were extremely well received.
It is said that in 1882, a group of boys at George Watson's College who played bagpipes, met on a regular basis to play together. If this is correct, it would make George Watson's College Pipes and Drums "The Oldest Civilian Pipe Band" in Scotland.
The Pipes and Drums were officially formed in 1905 along with introduction of the Cadet Force at the School. The band played a major role in school culture over the next 65 years until it was disbanded in 1970 along with the Cadet Force.
In 1985 the School took steps to restablish the band. Funds were raised for instruments and uniforms and before long the band was kitted out and playing. The Pipes and Drums were fortunate to have the assistance of a number of people who were the driving force behind the band's revival. They included the then Deputy Headmaster Angus McDonald and teachers at the School Mr Norman Bruce and Mr Les Howie.
Mr Howie was appointed Master in Charge of the Pipes and Drums and in due course a parents' committee was formed to help with fund raising and development. With Mr Howie's help the band saw considerable success until work commitments forced him to step down in 1993, upon which the parent committee took over his responsibilities. The parents' committee worked tirelessly during the next seven years to raise the profile of the band within the school environment and also within the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association.
In Autumn 2000 the school appointed Pipe Major Iain Simpson and Drum Major Michael O'Neill as full time members of staff and joint Masters in Charge of the Pipes and Drums. Since then the organisation has been developed and there are now three bands which compete very successfully in the Juvenile and Novice Juvenile grades.