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.
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