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Pipe band seeks new members

The Kilmarnock & District Pipe Band is looking for a few new members who are interested in learning to play the bagpipes or drums.

Classes for beginners will organize shortly, reported president Bob Swann.

The band was organized in 1998 and has played for many civic events and parades in the area. A Burns Night Supper, with songs and poems by Robert Burns, and concert in January has been a popular fundraiser for the band. The band also supplies pipers for weddings and funerals on request, said Swann.

For anyone wishing to learn to play the bagpipes or drums, the band provides free instruction, he said. A new student piper should be willing to spend 45 minutes each day working with a practice chanter to learn the notes and begin to memorize the tunes.

An instructional book with pictures and a DVD showing each step is provided. The practice chanter and book can be supplied by the band to students with proper references or with a $150 deposit. Students also can purchase their own chanter and book for the same cost.

No previous experience with any musical instrument is required although some knowledge of musical notation will save a couple of hours of study. Male and female students of almost any age can learn to play in a reasonable time with serious application, said Swann. Members of the band provide instruction or other guidance as needed with flexible scheduling. Experienced pipes and drummers are, or course, most welcome.

After 4 to 12 months of working with the practice chanter, the piping student is ready to move to the bagpipes. A reasonable set of new bagpipes costs in the neighborhood of $1,200 and is furnished by the student. Old or inexpensive pipes are usually not suitable for new students. The practice chanter is still used at practices and for learning new tunes.

A motivated student piper can be playing with the band in as little as six months, said Swann.

For drummers the band supplies the drums and the drum sergeant provides instruction.

The band practices from 5:15 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays at Campbell Presbyterian Church in Weems. Visitors interested in exploring the possibility of joining the band are welcome.

While members are expected to attend most practices in order to learn to play as a group, the real effort in learning to play is done individually at home. It helps to have a place to practice where you won’t disturb others although the practice chanter is not loud, said Swann.

There is no membership fee to join the band. Once a new member is ready to participate, the band furnishes the kilt, belt, sporran and jacket. The member supplies less expensive uniform items.

Those interested in learning to play or joining the band are urged to contact Swann at, or 453-3465.

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