My grandmother made my first kilt when I was 3 years old. I have been fascinated with the bagpipes and Scottish history since a child. I started playing the bagpipes as a teenager, and have had various instructors including Bob Worrall, Jackie Poncet and John Maclean. I attribute Bob Gilchrist with giving me a wealth of wonderful teaching slogans, such as “Play the note and not the embellishment”. I competed individually and got to Grade 1. The best comment a judge gave me was not to play The Lament for the Viscount Dundee like Bill Livingstone.
I stopped playing solo when I became Pipe Major of the Grade 3 Dunloggin Pipe Band. While I was Pipe Major, we earned third at Maxville, second in piping. It was a great moment. I later was asked to start a competition pipe band in Baltimore. The Police Emerald Society Pipe band of Baltimore went from nothing to a champion Grade 4 Pipe Band. I have competed with a pipe band in every grade level at Maxville from the then Grade 1 Denny & Dunipace to the Grade 5 Loch Raven Pipe Band.
I am interested in many styles of piping beyond just competition. Cape Breton piping has a way playing strathspeys, reels and jigs that is different than competitive styles. Breton and Galician piping have very different swings. I started playing smallpipes way back in the 1990s after hearing Hamish Moore. I am part of a group that comprises the folk band from hell, bagpipes, accordion and banjo.
I retired from teaching in public schools and currently am the Director of the US Naval Academy Pipes and Drums. It is a great opportunity to combine my passions of teaching, Scottish History and piping. I stay engaged in education as an advocate, including a recent run for Board of Education. I love visiting historic sites and participating in re-enactments. Some items I checked off my bucket list were to fly a biplane, drive a tank, and get a motorcycle that is a modern production of an historic WW2 era British bike.