MORE than 30,000 young Scots are unable to learn Scotland’s national instrument due to a lack of tuition in schools, it has been claimed.

The Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust (SSPDT) has loaned more than 300 sets of bagpipes to schools, councils and community groups since launching in August 2015.

It is working with 14% of the country’s schools across more than 20 council areas and says year-on-year demand is climbing, with 40 sets of pipes given out in the past month alone.

But chief executive Alexandra Duncan says lack of opportunity means an estimated 30,000 youngsters are denied the chance to learn traditional music.

The figure is based on the average take-up within every “learning community” currently reached by the Trust.

Duncan said: “100 to 180 choose to learn if they are given the chance within secondary schools and their feeder primary schools.

“Traditional music isn’t taught at all in whole regions of Scotland. In Edinburgh, in our national capital, there is no school learning of our national instrument. It’s a great shame. There is a huge demand out there.”

Around 800 musicians are expected to take part in the SSPDT’s Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships in Kilmarnock next month.

The event is thought to be the largest of its kind in the world.

Duncan says demand for piping tuition has “always been there”. However, she compares the current level of interest to that of the resurgence in Gaelic and Scots. The Open University recently launched a Scots language course, while learning app Duolingo’s Gaelic option has drawn 200,000 users since its St Andrew’s Day launch.

She said: “When you introduce tuition there are so many children who want to take part.

“You can now study traditional music as an integrated degree. If you start studying in school, there are real career paths open for you.”

James Macrae, nine, is among the SSPDT’s beneficiaries, winning the Western Isles Young Musician of the Year with pipes from its bagpipe lending scheme.

Meanwhile, Fife Council is amongst the participating local authorities. Its music service coordinator Sandra Taylor said: “This loan of bagpipes has allowed greater numbers of young chanter pupils to progress on to pipes, often at the P7 stage as opposed to waiting until when at secondary school.

“This in turn has increased the activity of ensemble work in schools, with greater performance opportunities available.”