Generations as young as 8 years old are learning their way around the sound of the mighty bagpipes.

Balclutha and Milton local Donald Wilson has been perfecting the bagpipes for more than 60 years, and he has taken the time to pass his knowledge over to keen youngsters in the Clutha district.

Mr Wilson is retired from a farm in Hillend and took on what he called a ‘‘rewarding commitment’’ which kept him ‘‘out of mischief.’’

‘‘I teach about 14 children around the district, from eight years old onward, and I absolutely enjoy it,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s quite surprising how many kids want to play the bagpipes at the young ages.’’

Mr Wilson teaches on Mondays and Tuesdays in Balclutha, but teaches youngsters from Balclutha, Milton, Owaka and more.

‘‘It doesn’t cost the kids much at all to learn, I just think it’s fun to watch them get that moment where they’ve got the hang of it,’’ he said.

It took around a year or so to learn the bagpipes, and from then on they continued ‘‘to master it’’, Mr Wilson said.

‘‘They usually start off with their fingers and play three or four simple tunes, and from there they learn more about each aspect of the pipes.

‘‘It’s a great pleasure watching the kids get the appreciation for it because once they get a liking for it, they keep coming and the camaraderie between the kids is great to see.

‘‘Sometimes the boys will get to high school age and go on to do different things, but that’s all right. I can’t keep them all.’’

It would be nice to have some female students in having a go, because ‘‘we all know females can do it too, and probably better.’’

Mr Wilson’s grandson, 10-year-old William, said he ‘‘liked playing the bagpipes with granddad’’ and it was ‘‘fun’’.

‘‘Music is alive and moving — we play many kinds of music, as new music for bagpipes is always coming out,’’ Mr Wilson said.

‘‘Bagpipes are getting quite popular again in New Zealand, Australia, the United States, United Kingdom and Canada. I think it’ll come back even more over the years to come.

‘‘A new set can go for around $2500-$3000, but second-hand maybe around $200. We’re using a set of 176-year-old bagpipes and they still go well.’’

Mr Wilson can be contacted on 027 418-2461 for youngsters who could be keen to learn the bagpipes.