ANDY Keith joined the College of Piping at the age of eleven in the Pitt Street days of
the late 1940s, attending evening classes and summer camps. In those days pupils were graded each month according to their progress and there were monthly competitions between the various nights of the College.The name of Alex Russell as he was known then appeared regularly as a Grade One pupil and a prize winner firstly in the chanter competitions, followed by junior and then senior piping.
When the College moved to new
premises in the Red Hackle building opposite the present site in Otago Street, Sandy was chosen to play at the official opening on 17th May 1951.He playedThe Pipers’Cave and The High Road to Gairloch as the first tunes played by a College boy in the newly opened College. His sister Margaret became a College pupil after the move to the new premises as she attended the dancing classes. At the College’s St Andrew’s Day Ball in 1951 a capacity crowd danced
Sandy is top right in this picture taken at the CoP Summer Camp at Kinlochard shortly afterWW2
to the music of Bobby MacLeod and his band and the Grand March was led by College pupils Sandy Russell, Calum Carmichael and Norman MacLean. Sandy played again at the Ball in 1952 and was pictured with MCs Hector MacLean and John MacLean and fellow pupil Calum Carmichael (over). The results of the end of session competition in June 1952 show the calibre of the College pupils at that time and the standard of Sandy’s playing. Piobaireachd: 1. Alexander Russell, 2. Finlay MacNeill, 3. Kenneth MacLean, 4. Calum Carmichael, 5. Norman MacLean. March: 1. Norman MacLean, 2. Andrew Bell, 3. Dugald MacNeill, 4. Finlay MacNeill, 5. Equal- Kenneth Torrance and Kenneth MacLean. Strathspey and Reel: 1. Norman MacLean,