School of Piping Profiles

Pipe Major Brett Tidswell held the position as National Principal of Piping with the Australian Pipe Band College for over 20 years. This organisation is the educational branch of the Australian Pipe Band Association and manages educational programs, certificate courses, training and qualification of contest adjudicators, and the grading of pipers and pipe bands for competition purposes. He has a long and respected history as an educator of pipers around the world, at the highest of levels.

Having been employed as a piping instructor in the Defence Force and for some years as a full-time bagpipe teacher; in 1991 Brett was asked to take on the role of Pipe Major of the newly formed, City of Adelaide Pipe Band. This band consisted primarily of young pipers, some of whom had never played in a band before and the majority of whom had only ever competed in Grade 4 or Juvenile competitions. He took them on to win Grade 2 in the Victorian and South Australian Championships within 12 months of their formation. In 1998 they won the Australian Grade 1 Championships. The band remained at the top of Grade 1 under his leadership for the next 10 years. These feats are attributed to a thorough program of educating the band’s pipers. 

Brett is a soloist of International renown with many competition successes and a demand to perform at recitals around the world. He has competed with the Strathclyde Police Pipe Band (20 X World Pipe Band Champions) and his students also have a history of such success, with many solo prizes and even Pipe Band World Championships to their credit. He is author of the much acclaimed "The Complete Pipers Handbook", "The Reed Book", "The Bagpipe Instruction Manual" and his technical articles have been published in some of the World’s most recognised piping publications including; Pipe Bands Australia Magazine, New Zealand Pipe Band Magazine, The Voice - USA, Pipes|Drums - Canada and the Piping Times Magazine - Scotland.

Brett is a life member of the Australian Pipe Band Association, the R U Brown Piobaireachd Society of SA and the City of Adelaide Pipe Band, a testament to how much he has committed to putting value back into these organisations.

Pipe Major Tidswell has been described by Piping World Magazine as the only piper to win Australia’s top solo piping competition (a record 12 wins of the R U Brown Piobaireachd Society Gold Medal and the Clasp for former winners) as well as pipe majoring a Grade 1 Australian Championship winning Pipe Band, “an impressive feat that will not be beaten in this generation”.

Pipe Major William Robertson began piping at 11 years of age with the Boys Brigade, 1st St. Andrews Company. He was called up for National Service with The Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment), the oldest serving regiment of the British Army. 

Bill was accepted for the Pipes and Drums of the 1st Battalion of the regiment under Pipe Major Willie Denholm (ex K.O.S.B's). In 1953, Denholm retired and was succeeded by Pipe Major Hugh Fraser a renowned solo competitor who transferred from the Cameron Highlanders. Bill was fortunate enough to be taught and influenced by Hugh who had so much to pass on with his experience in the "Old School" of Army piping pre-war and of the 40s and 50s. He was also a notable composer.

At the age of 23, Bill gained the much-coveted Pipe Majors' Certificate at Edinburgh Castle under the direction of the World famous Pipe Major Willie Ross MBE (ex Pipe Major of the Scots Guards and legendary soloist). A year or so later Bill succeeded Hugh Fraser as Pipe Major of the 1st Battalion.

In 1959 Bill immigrated to New Zealand he started directing and training a group of youngsters of the Hamilton Caledonian Society's Pipe Band and brought them up from Grade 2 to Grade 1, winning third in the National Grade 1 Championships 1963/4. Bill then directed the Auckland and District Pipe Band and took them to several Grade 1 New Zealand championship victories, the Open events at Vancouver BC and Santa Rosa, California in 1972 and they also gained the highest points for tone at the Scottish Championships in the same year. 

Bill placed first in the Highland Brigade Piobaireachd event in 1957, he won the Comunn Na Piobaireachd New Zealand Gold Medal in 1962 and the Australian Open March, Strathspey and Reel competition held in Sydney, 1967.

Bill's piobaireachd composition, 'Lament for Pipe Major Hugh Fraser' was placed third in the BBC competition for new piobaireachd in 1965. It has been published in the book "Collection Ceol Mor - composed during the Twentieth Century" compiled by the Piobaireachd Society - UK. It also appears with his 6/8 march "Pipe Major Bill Boyle, New Zealand Scottish Regiment" in the Royal Scots Pipe Music Book.

Bill has been a significant contributor to the School of Piping over the years and we offer his unique bagpipe tutorial series for sale through our online shop.