St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church sponsoring pipe and drum lessons


Photo courtesy St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church
St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church is sponsoring pipe and drum lessons. Chanter lessons are held Wednesdays in the St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church Parish Hall.

By Michelle Chapman | St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church

Does your heart swell with the piping drones of “Amazing Grace” and “Scotland the Brave”? Does the thunder of a well-choreographed drum line leave you feeling weak in the knees? Have you dreamed of one day marching with the pipes and drums in a parade? Well, you can. 

St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church has a small but powerful pipe and drum corps happy and willing to teach you, too, to make the hills sing with song and thunder with the beat of your own drum.

St. Patrick’s pipe and drum band plans to play for parades and Scottish-flavored celebrations again this year after a couple of sad years off for the pandemic. It’s time to celebrate life and music again. What better way than with bagpipes and drums?

Playing bagpipes is different than other wind instruments in that one keeps the bag full of breath and the bag provides the power for projecting the sound. There are three drones, a chanter and mouthpiece attached to the bag. The drones and chanter have a reed inside that produces the sound as air flows. Yes, that does require quite a bit of air. It takes practice and development of good muscle tone in the diaphragm and mouth muscles to keep the bag sufficiently full. 

While developing good muscle tone, new students learn the music on a practice chanter, which is like a wooden recorder except there is a reed inside the top of the mouthpiece. There are only nine notes. Simple tunes are ornamented with grace notes and trills. If you can read music or learn tunes by ear, you can learn to play these fun Scottish tunes on the practice chanter. We can also teach you to read music.

Jim Dorian and Paul Elliot, both experienced Scottish pipers, are happy to teach the art of piping free of charge. We meet for chanter lessons every Wednesday from 5:15 to 5:45 p.m. at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church Parish Hall at 225 South Pagosa Blvd. Contact Dorian at (970) 749-2129 for more information and a pep talk.

You may be wondering, “Why the kilts?” The kilt is the traditional form of dress for the people of Scotland. When the British came and took over, they banned the wearing of kilts,which really made the Scots mad, as you can imagine. What if someone took over the U.S. and banned blue jeans? We’d get pretty upset, too. Now the Scots wear their kilts with pride. If you have an inkling to play bagpipes or drum with bagpipers, then you are a bit Scottish, whether you know it or not. So yes, we wear our kilts with pride. Come join us.