Young pipers in training

May 16, 2002, vol. 24, no. 2
By Julie Ovenell-Carter

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Away, away with a pipe and drum -- that's the rallying cry of one of the newest kids' camps on offer at SFU this summer.

Beginning July 8, members of the world champion SFU Pipe Band will teach children ages eight to 13 the bagpipe basics. At a second camp the following week they will offer instruction in Scottish snare-drumming. click here for web site

Long-time pipe band member Rob MacNeil is coordinating the program, which he hopes will inspire some campers to join the junior band that feeds into SFU's award-winning troupe.

MacNeil, who was introduced to piping at age 10 by his Polish mother, says the camps would suit “any boy or girl with an interest in music or dance, especially Celtic music or Highland dance. It's a good introduction to bands, and it's just a whole lot of fun for youngsters to make music with a bunch of kids their own age.”

MacNeil says the pint-sized pipers will start on practice chanters - “the part you play the melody on” - to learn the fundamentals of bagpipe technique. “At the end of the week, they'll be able to play simple tunes, and if they choose to stay with it, they'll be playing real bagpipes in eight or nine months, or even sooner.”

Drummers will learn rudimentary rhythms on practice pads, and will be able to accompany a simple musical score by the end of the week. “I think a lot of kids might want to try both camps. We're seeing a lot of crossover in bands: kids who play both pipes and drums.”

Last year, more than 6,500 took part in SFU's summer camps which cater to a broad range of skills and interests. In addition to the ever-popular sports, swimming and science camps, this year's roster will also include a new Rescue Academy camp, aimed at teens interested in pursuing a career in emergency services. The camp will be led by a paramedic with the B.C. ambulance service, and will include search and rescue training, a mock emergency drill, and a modified version of the fireman's combat challenge.

SFU aquatic programmer Melanie Klapstock, who is helping to organize the camp, expects it will be well subscribed, noting that the events of last September were “a real eye-opener for people about the importance of emergency services.” Registration is already under way for SFU's summer camps, and enrolment is on a first-come-first-served basis. For more information, call 604-291-4307, or e-mail summer camps or visit their website.

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