The Captain (and Me)

May 9, 2010 on 5:04 pm by Michael Grey | In Photographs, Solo Piping, Stories, Tips | 2 Comments

Colin MacLellan sent along a few photos this week. All have become instant treasures. Colin was in town this weekend and while the memory is still fresh (in a hazy sort of way) of me seeing him the last away at 4:30 this morning following a post-competition party, I pass it along here.

Here’s a photo of me getting the Word from Captain John A. MacLellan. I love this picture. It is the only pic I have of me getting a piping lesson and one of the few I have of me with the great Captain MacLellan. Those were the days, too, when I’d go to the barber and just say, “thin it out”.

michael grey and john maclellan seaway school of piping kingston ontario canada

This photo is full of neat little details like reeds, mandrill and manuscript on the table; discarded coffee cups under the chair. Oh, and I note that students wore a kilt to lessons. I think today a chavy track suit is about as good as lesson gear gets.

Interesting to note, too, (just can’t resist pointing out) that John MacLellan played a standard-sized practice chanter. I see I have my standard-sized R.G. Hardie in hand – the same one I still use today (“we’ll have none of those over-sized chanter monstrosities”). The best technique is, of course, nurtured on the standard-sized practice chanter. To hear recordings of John A., and his impeccable technique and now a photo of him in mid-tune on a standard-sized practice chanter is further evidence supporting this truth.

Anyway, a self-indulgent photo – but one I thought you’d find of passing interest. With that slightly sour puss I’d have to think I was being majorly corrected for a serious piping misstep. A photo for a “caption” contest?

By the way, summer piping (and drumming) schools are great things: you’ll learn – of course – but you’ll also experience fun that will be remembered a lifetime and, if you’re lucky you’ll make lifelong friends.

That’s my summer piping school experience.

A friendly suggestion, too, to not forget to occasionally let the camera capture those special “background” piping moments.

Thanks, Colin!



  1. Great photo. Funny, when I read your headline I thought you were talking about Ken Eller, not THE Captain. That picture is really begging for a caption (or is that a captaintion?).

    Comment by aberthoff — May 10, 2010 #

  2. Thanks, Andrew.

    Yes, Kenny is very much a Captain-come-lately in comparison.

    “If you don’t get it right this time you can take up that piano!”?


    Comment by Michael Grey — May 10, 2010 #

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