When Pipers Die

November 23, 2008 on 9:22 pm by Michael Grey | In Music, Pipe Bands, Solo Piping, Stories, Tips | 5 Comments

I’m just in the door from Scott MacAulay’s memorial, held this afternoon in Hamilton, Ontario.   A standing room only crowd with lots of music: bagpipes, smallpipes and Gaelic song, and lots of heartfelt memory.  It has been over two months since Scott’s death and, still, emotion was raw.  It was great to see so many old friends and aquaintances.  Scott would’ve been hugely proud of main organizers Kenny Eller, Donnie Forgan, Sue McCarroll and Bob MacCrimmon. “God love ’em, ” he’d say, I’m sure.

Scott’s memorial comes a day after the Annual General Meeting of the Pipers’ & Pipe Band Society of Ontario.  I attended yesterday’s meeting, as readers of this blog will know. 

At today’s gathering of family, friends, pipers and drummers there was much love, appreciation and joy.   Not at all unlike what we’d rightfully expect from the fraternity that is pipers and drummers.   

It just strikes me, as I reflect – and today was a good day of reflection – that pipers (and drummers, and me, of course) can be such blustery arses; pointing fingers and doubting each other’s intentions and often seeing the worst, instead of the best, in our musical colleagues.  It seems to me that its at pipe band AGMs that we are at our cynical, emotional, sometimes crabbiest worst.  And it’s at times like memorials and funerals and the like that we think and see the truth in a person, the truth of a person.  A silly juxtaposition, maybe, of  AGMs and funerals, but reflection on mortality, more than anything else, provides the gift of sharp focus of what matters.   

Wouldn’t it be great if we had that focus, that sharp focus of what matters, before a piper (or anyone, really) dies?  

15 minute pipe band presentations?  10 minute medleys? Whatever.  That stuff just doesn’t matter in the big scheme of things.  Life is short, and then we die.  

But I know you know that.  I’m not always the shiniest penny.




  1. Shine on, you crazy diamond . . . It’s a shame that we too often celebrate people when they’re gone. Scott was a mover and shaker and a crafty politician. I told him once that I thought he could pretty easily run for and win a federal parliament seat if he wanted. But, like blustery arses (!!) at AGMs, Scott too could bluster with the best of them, but always with a knowing wink and a mischievous smirk.

    Comment by aberthoff — November 24, 2008 #

  2. Heh Michael…so well put… and Andrew , I subscribe completely…. we collectively do not recognize our peers for their contributions,their celebrity or their importance in our lives till often its too late… something to think about… thanks guys, for your thoughts…. ken

    Comment by Captain — November 24, 2008 #

  3. Thanks guys. A much harder day Sunday than I had expected. M.

    Comment by mike — November 25, 2008 #

  4. Well, it’s Wednesday night the week after, and I’m just reading. Sounds like it would’ve been a hard day for Scott’s oldest friends, and a good one, too. I loved your comment about the gift of sharp focus. How true. Anyway, hope the days in between have lifted your spirits, and put the shine back on your penny.

    Comment by iainmacd — November 27, 2008 #

  5. Very nice. Thanks, Iain. M.

    Comment by mike — November 27, 2008 #

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