Pipers and drummers teach success strategies in NYC
Contact: Marianne Meadahl, PAMR, 1-347-824-0555 (cell)
Members of the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band are spending the weekend in New York teaching others the trade secrets of world champion pipers and drummers.
The sessions, at Archbishop Molloy high school in Queens, follow the success of the band’s May 4 performance at the famed Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
More than 200 young and old piping and drumming enthusiasts are reaping the benefits of the weekend highland arts festival, hosted by the SFU band.
The chance to be taught by some of the world’s best musicians inspired one eastern Canadian band to drive two truckloads of members for 10 hours to the Big Apple.
“It’s amazing to have musicians of their caliber so freely share their expertise to help others improve,” says John Dennis, pipe sergeant of the Caledonia & District pipe band. “Their willingness to be more than just great performers is quite amazing, and we’re so glad to be benefiting from it.”
Teaching is a huge part of the band’s mandate, says Pipe Sergeant Jack Lee. “Reaching out and engaging with others who are learning the craft, no matter what level they’re at, is something that we as a band take seriously,” says Lee, a full-time instructor who teaches worldwide, often by Skype. “ We want to help others raise the bar for themselves and for the music.”
Participants are learning everything from handling performance pressure and achieving great sound to how to practice, tune pipes, and hold drumsticks.
Joe Ausfahl of Fayetteville, Tennessee has played the pipes for more than 50 years and says it’s never too late to learn, especially when the teachers are world class. “There is simply no one better on the planet to learn from than the musicians with the SFU band,” he says.
Echoes Tim Crouch, a community pipe band member from Brantford, Ontario: “This band is the best in the world. They inspired me to pick up the pipes in the first place. When I heard they were coming east, even though it was a 12-hour drive, I couldn’t miss it.”
Even the workshops’ youngest participant, 10-year-old drummer Ian Wood-Bielski, came from Massachusetts to see his Skype teacher, SFU Drum Leader Reid Maxwell.
The youngster earlier won a drumming competition at Invermark, NY, landing him a scholarship with the band’s drummer (sister Megan won a similar piping scholarship to take lessons from Lee). The young protégé continues weekly lessons online.
The band will now focus on a pair of upcoming competitions on Vancouver Island during the May long weekend and its preparations for the annual World Pipe Band competition in Scotland in August.
Pipe Major Terry Lee says the band has a good jump on its preparations this year with the New York concert under its belt. “We’re more ready than ever at this point in time,” he says. “It’s feeling like a good year.