It Should Never Be a Chore to Play

April 30, 2008 on 9:23 pm by Michael Grey | In Stories, Tips | 5 Comments

You sometimes make your luck and you sometimes chance on luck but however it comes I can tell you I’ve had a fair bit of it when it comes to tuition.  The 20th century master, Captain John MacLellan, is one teacher who helped me a lot; he left a big impression.  Of his many memorable pieces of advice one that stays close to the surface is this:

“It should never be a chore to play the pipes when asked”

I’ve often thought of his words when called upon to play when I didn’t feel much like it, or thought the time not right or whatever other excuse I’d had in mind.  Pipers, I think, more than most musicians, have an obligation, when called on, to share the sweet music.  I mean, it’s not the kind of mainstream instrument that sees players frequently coaxed and cajoled to lay out a tune – at least not beyond the Outer Hebrides.  We can’t let the first request slip away.

A couple of weeks ago Reagan Jones, the band’s outstanding bass drummer, asked me to play with her at a big percussion competition in London, Ontario.  I thought twice: I thought of Reagan and I recalled John MacLellan’s words.

So, if there was ever any doubt, I can tell you that no matter how long you hang around this game there’s always opportunities to try new things, experience new musical adventures and to always play – when asked.   

This Saturday, May 3rd I’ll be playing with Reagan at the Innovations event in London, Ontario.   A solo bass drum contest is a first for me.  I’m looking forward to it!  Especially knowing Nathan McLaren, band snare drummer and DCI champion and my old friend and pupil Jamie “Jamsie” Hunter will be joining on rope drum and guitar (respectively) – a bass quartet!  Let the music begin! 

Maybe I’ll see you there.





  1. We can see the bands or individuals that are or aren’t afraid to try something. The ones that are allways winning are trying new things to stay on top of the game and the ones that are stuborn and have the “I know what it takes” attitude, are the ones that stay at the bottom. Do you think Richard Parks or Terry Lee aren’t paying attention to who is doing what? I can tell you there are.

    Change is a good thing. It’s refreshing, adds life and opens new doors to what can be tapped into.

    I think Mike, your going to open a lot of eyes into the new normal of piping.


    Comment by jackperry — May 1, 2008 #

  2. Hey Pops – thanks for your note, I completely agree with what you say. Thanks, too, for your vote of confidence! Cheers, M.

    Comment by mike — May 1, 2008 #

  3. Hi Mike…So how did the Innovations event go? Sean

    Comment by Sean Mc — May 7, 2008 #

  4. And it wasn’t a chore to listen to you Mike. Great playing, and good to see you albeit briefly. This blog sounds suspiciously like my Mom. Were you talking to her? She was right, of course.

    Comment by iainmacd — May 9, 2008 #

  5. First – Sean – so sorry for the delay in getting back – the Innovation thing was excellent! Well organized, and something a little different. Loads of interesting things happening. Highly recommended (and my bass drummer person won! [if there is such a thing, really, as a “winner” in music!] … suspect Belgium beckons for you two!

    Second – Ian – great to see you, too – and thanks for the kind words…you and your son make an entertaining team! Well done to Ruaridh – and you! M.

    Comment by mike — May 28, 2008 #

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