How it all started
So how did Kevin get into playing the Scottish Great Highland Bagpipes anyway?
Well, it is his Mom’s fault. Back when Kevin was 10, his sisters were Highland Dancing. One day in early September, out of the blue, his Mom tells him that the cost of Highland Dance records were getting too expensive. Therefore Kevin should go learn to play the pipes so that his sisters can practice dancing. Of course a 10 year old can’t be expected to reason out that 1) the records had already been purchased; and, 2) a set of bagpipes were much more expensive than a record or two.
Kevin, being the dutiful son, went to learn the bagpipes. The local pipe band didn’t usually start teaching students until they were mid-teens. However, since Kevin already played other musical instruments and therefore knew some music theory and could read the music, they took him on. His first two sheets of music were laminated to help protect them against mother nature and 10 year old boys. Once Kevin learned to play a few songs, he was given a set of pipes to play. The neighborhood started to think they understood why during World War 2 the German Army nicknamed the pipe bands “The Screaming Ladies from Hell.”
For the next 3 years Kevin learned to play the pipes. During the third year, he even started winning medals in the Alberta piping competitions (grade 4). At the end of the third year, Kevin decided he didn’t want to play the pipes anymore. So he took a break.
Mom and Dad didn’t fight this too hard. They minded their time. Then fate intervened when Kevin was 16. His Dad was taking command of the local Militia unit, and he wanted a band for the change of command parade. Unfortunately the unit didn’t have a band, but Dad had a son who was musical. So Dad borrowed a set of pipes from a different Militia unit, and Kevin started practicing to play at the parade.
Kevin didn’t mind playing the pipes again, and it turns out he hadn’t forgotten anything. So with a bit of practicing to blow the dust off, Kevin played the pipes at the parade. When it was time to return the pipes, Kevin talked about buying his own set. His grandmother thought this was a wonderful idea (she loved the sound and music of the pipes) and she offered to pay half.
After graduating from high school, Kevin went off to Royal Roads Military College. RRMC had a pipe band which Kevin joined. This pipe band had pipers who were much more skilled in the playing of the pipes than Kevin had encountered previously. Playing the pipes almost every day, under the tutelage of these pipers, led to Kevin becoming a much better piper. He also helped teach other beginning pipers. And there is no better way to master your learning of something than to teach it to someone else.
In his last year at RRMC, there were only 3 pipers left at the college due to RRMC being closed that year and all other pipers having graduated the previous year. Kevin took over the pipe band. He trained 6 brand new beginner pipers. Within 3 months these pipers could play a tune or two on the pipes. Together. Sounding not too bad for beginners. By Christmas break, the pipe band was playing more than enough songs to be on parade.
At that year’s graduation, the pipe band ended up playing for General De Chastelaine, who was a piper himself.
After graduating from RRMC and moving back to Alberta, Kevin kept up playing the pipes as well as teaching new bagpipers. Kevin helped the local Army Cadet Corps get their pipe band started. He then started taking on students from Airdrie and area.
Around 2014, Kevin started having a group of his students play together. This resulted in the Airdrie Scots Pipes and Drums. He is currently the Pipe Major of the band.
Kevin currently lives in Airdrie Alberta, where he is teaching both bagpipes and drumming to students as well as performing at parades, weddings and funerals. He is also the Pipe Major of the Airdrie Scots Pipes and Drums
Ways to contact me:
ITAD Service Number (IP Telephony Administrative Domain (i.e. VoIP) ) 21654*1711