My interest in music and history coincided when I was in fourth grade. I don’t remember any specific event that sparked my interest, I was just born into a fascination of them.
I remember picking out my wallpaper for my bedroom that consisted of revolutionary war soldiers with muskets, drums and fifes. It was then that I started playing trumpet in school as there were limited instruments to choose from. I became an accomplished player. My music teacher would parade me from class to class to perform solo pieces of music. I would spend time after school practicing and listening to Louis Armstrong albums for hours.
When I was a teenager, I dabbled in guitar and harmonica and became pretty good at rhythm and singing folk songs. But when I started Civil War re-enacting, I became interested in more traditional music and instruments. Starting on the fife in a small drum and fife band and picking up some banjo, soon led to my interest in traditional Celtic instruments. Being descendent of Celtic roots, I soon thought it was time to learn to play bagpipes. Soon I was playing bagpipes…
I’ve never really heard live bagpipes before, and was not even sure why, other than my family history and my love of all history I wanted to play them. I proceeded to call music stores to see if they carried bagpipes. Most of them laughed at me and could provide no help. This being before the days of internet, it proved difficult to find someone that sold bagpipes. After many phone calls I managed to find someone who gave me the phone number of an importer. I ordered and finally had my bagpipes in hand.
Little did I know that bagpipes are one of the most difficult instruments to play. I had ordered a practice chanter and a learner’s book that came with a cassette. Had I not already had a history of playing instruments, I never would have been able to figure them out. I self-taught myself for about eight months or so and became quite efficient in playing, though it is said it takes seven years to learn how to play them correctly. I soon learned there was a whole new world of bagpiping with bands and competitions. I found my first band called the York Kiltie Band. I got my first taste of parades and band performances. I wanted to expand my playing experience, so I found an instructor to brush me up so to speak. It was then that I started competing. I found a newly formed competition band called Ceol Neamh Pipe Band. We climbed our way to the top of Grade Three competitions and we were well known for our music. We performed live concerts with Celtic folk singers and dancers filling venues in Lancaster County Pa.
I competed in solo competitions and with the band for about fifteen years. I have been featured in news programs, and making the local papers was common. I have instructed countless students to the point of accomplishment. I’ve played for countless weddings and funerals including the honor of laying to rest police and firemen.
I moved to Ocean City Maryland In 2011 and did not play for a couple of years. I then was introduced to the Ocean City Pipes and Drums Band, where I am currently the Pipe Major for the band. We perform locally in parades, clubs and lead the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Ocean City.
Playing bagpipes has given me so many great opportunities to meet fascinating people, play for amazing events including on stage with the famous Chieftains and the High Kings. Learning to play bagpipes was and is one of the best accomplishments in my life.
Let’s talk about playing bagpipes at your wedding, venue or for the St. Patrick’s Day holidays. Contact Me
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