Kinnaird Bagpipes Banner
February 2009
Piping at Sunset

Last Month's Survey Question:
What would help to improve your playing?
Having an Instructor- 27.8%
More Practice- 75.9%
Different Tunes- 1.9%
Playing with Others- 16.7%
Better/Improved Products-3.7%
Nothing, I'm already a Pro- 0%
Other- (including more time to play, Pipe Band Camp, better memory, better fingers, tips from experts) 22.2%

This month's Question:
If you could meet and play with any Piper in the world (living or deceased) who would it be? Answer the Question

Blue Line
Featured Piper
Piper to the Queen

Piper to the Sovereign

In 1842, Queen Victoria with her husband Albert, took a trip to Taymouth Castle. She heard John Ban MacKenzie playing the bagpipes and was delighted. She sent a letter to her mother describing the event and told her that she had decided to have a piper. The Marquis of Breadalbane recommended Angus MacKay as the Piper for the Queen. MacKay accepted the job and moved to London where he became the first Piper to the Sovereign.

Early on, the Piper to the Sovereign had several duties, including serving as footman in the garden, waiting at dinner, greeting visitors and escorting them, and taking orders from the Sergeant Footman. Now, the Sovereign's Piper plays every weekday morning at 9:00am outside the Queen's window when she is at Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, and Balmoral. He also plays at special events and accompanies the Queen to various audiences. While at Balmoral during the summer, the Queen has an unofficial rule that the same tunes can not be played twice.

The Queen's Piper, as he is sometimes called, coordinates twelve pipers to play in the dining room for official state banquets. He plays at the Queen's dinner table each evening at Balmoral, Holyroodhouse and Windsor.

To date, there have been 12 Piper's to the Sovereign. The position used to be held until the Piper's death; however this is no longer the case. In 1965, the post of Piper to the Sovereign was removed from the Civil List, and has since been given to a serving soldier and experienced army Pipe Major. The Piper would become a Master of the Household's Department at Buckingham Palace and retain his position until his enlistment expires (maximum of 22 years). The Queen personally interviews Pipers for the position. The current Piper to the Sovereign is PM Alistair Cuthbertson. He was Pipe Major to the 1st Battalion the Royal Scots when he took this position.

We Want to Feature your Pipe Band!!
Send us an email with a band photo and a short write up. Include any links or videos that you would like us to post.

Blue Line
Piper Crossing

February 21 Winnipeg Scottish Festival

March 7 @ 5pm- 6pm Wilson School of Highland Dance 20th Anniversary at the Odeon Events Centre

March 11-15 Vancouver Celticfest

March 17 4:00pm-11pm Irish Fest at Odeon Events Centre, contact Tera Maguire [email protected]

March 17 Happy St. Patrick's Day

This Month's Video Clip:
This video features Warner Bros' favorite rabbit, Bugs Bunny, who makes a wrong turn and ends up in Scotland.
My Bunny Lies Over the Sea

More Upcoming Events
Blue Line
Featured Article
Being Judged

Preparing to Compete

As competition season begins to approach, here are a few tips that may be useful for your preparation.
Make sure that you join your Piping Association. Send in your registration for competitions as soon as possible, as those who sign in last often perform first. Select an appropriate tune that you can play well. It's better to play an easy tune well than to play a harder tune poorly. Play in front of others to get the feel of it. There are many distractions at these events, so the more the tune is internalized, the better prepared you will be. Watch other competitions to see how they run and how other pipers perform. You should check to see if there are marching requirements and, if so, practice with marching. It's a good idea to have a back up reed ready, just in case. Try on your entire outfit and practice in it. Double check your instrument to make sure that the stock joints are tight, tuning pins are sliding correctly, and any hoses are not kinked. It's also a good idea to have directions to the games and print off a map, just to be sure.

You will want to leave early to give yourself at least an hour on site before your competition. Find the competition area and check in. Make sure that they have you registered for the correct events. Check the playing area for any possible hazards, like holes in the ground. Check your drone and chanter reeds. Warm up with some exercises to get your tuning in place and your fingers warmed up. Don't overdue it, though, so you still have enough energy for your performance. Check to see if the event is progressing on time. Occasionally, they can be ahead of schedule, or behind schedule, so it's a good idea to keep checking in.

When it is your turn to perform, walk up to the judge. Make sure that you've left some room for them to finish scoring the last piper. The judge will often make eye contact with you to signal that it's your turn. Walk up to the judge, make eye contact, introduce yourself and state the tune you will be playing. Then, take your time before starting to play. If you need to do any last minute tuning, turn away from the judge. When ready, face the judge & give a nod to signal that you are ready. Although you may want to rush through it to get it over with, try to take your time and try to keep the correct tempo. Try to keep your focus and avoid looking at the crowd or judges, which may distract you. When finished, pause briefly before exiting. Make eye contact with the judge and say thank you. About an hour or so after the event is over, results will be posted and you can get your evaluation.

The most important things to remember are try to relax and have fun!

Here are some items that you may need to keep your pipes in good playing condition.


Rauncie Kinnaird
Kinnaird Bagpipes
Phone: 306-249-2939