Grade 5 band continues to make waves
BY MARGARET CALDBICK
Special to The News Repeating their auspicious season start to last year’s, the Grade 5 Glengarry Pipe Band again took first at the PPBSOOttawa Branch Indoor Games in Kemptville, Ontario on April 29, competing in a field of seven bands. At the same event, band member Nancy MacKinnon was awarded First Place in the Novice Tenor competition.
Another excellent finish lay in store in Kingston at the Scottish Festival where the band placed first in an unsanctioned event.
Then in early July, the band was off to PEI for a week of workshops and private lesson at the College of Piping in Summerside, Prince Edward Island immediately before competing at the Antigonish Highland Games in Nova Scotia where the band came second at the Nova Scotia Championship and on Sunday won the Atlantic Championships.
Solo player Sarah McKinnon took home an Antigonish Gold in grade four solo snare drumming.
The band is led by Pipe Major Erin Bell with lead drummer James Bush, who hope to capitalize on another dominating season start when the band competes at the World Pipe Band Championships on Aug. 5 at the Glengarry Highland Games.
The grade five band was seeded by the Glengarry Pipe Band Association in 2010 when Ross Davison assumed the role as Pipe Major with a view to compete at the end of the 2010 season. Playing in only one event that year, the North Lanark Highland Games, the new band placed third in its first-ever competition.
Today the band consists of members of all ages including 13- year- old snare drummer Duncan Shaheen of Ottawa who started playing percussion when he was six, moved on to orchestra but settled on snare when he was eight. He studies under Jim Bush at the Maxville School of Piping and Drumming.
Asked what settled him on pipe band drumming, Duncan explains, “It appeals to me. We get to do competi- tions which isn’t a thing for rock and roll drummers. Also there is more of a community around it. The band is made up of almost 20 people as opposed to four teens playing around in their basement.”
Rowan Meyer, 12, of Kemptville says he enjoys the ethos of playing in a pipe band. “I’ve been taking lessons with Ross Davison for three or fours years and being in the band I get to perform with other people and travel and compete.”
Erin Bell, the band’s 26-yearold pipe major started leading the band four years ago after being the pipe major of the Queen’s University Pipe Band where she studies software design and drama. Today she works as a software designer in Ottawa.
Ms. Bell began piping as a youngster at the Maxville School of Piping and came up through the system, playing with the grade five band until she was 13 when she joined the grade four and then the now- dissolved grade two band.
The band practices twice a week on the Maxville Fairgrounds. Just before the Games, they step their practice sessions up to three time a week.
After the home games, the band travels to the Montreal Highland Games on Aug. 6, the Almonte Game on Aug. 26 and the Pleasanton Highland Games ( Grade 3) on September 2-3.
To see the the Grade 5 band perform at the Glengarry Highland Games, plan to view the March Medley competition that gets underway at 9:40 a.m. on the Sunday with the band competing against 12 teams.
WINNING OUT EAST: The Grade 5 Glengarry Pipe Band competes at the Antigonish Highland Games in early July where the band won the Atlantic Canada Pipe Band Championships and finished second in the Nova Scotia Pipe Band Championships.