Dakota Shaw wasn’t sure he wanted to play the bagpipes when it was first suggested.
Now the 16-year-old Truro resident is hoping for a career that involves piping.
“Playing the bagpipes is one of my favourite things to do,” he said. “I just like the joy of it.”
When he was 11 he got involved with piping, through cadets and at the urging of his mother, who is a fan of pipe music.
He was instructed, through cadets, by Darren Knox, but his eagerness to learn more led his mother to arrange for him to study with Mike Dupuis. Dakota now also takes lessons through Skype with James MacHattie, director of education at The College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts of Canada, in Summerside, P.E.I.
Although he started playing a set of pipes that belonged to cadets, he now has his own. He began by cutting his teeth, so to speak, on the chanter, a long, thin woodwind instrument.
“Bagpipes is harder to learn than trumpet,” he said. “You have to learn to play the chanter and then the pipes. It takes a lot of practice but it’s worth it.
“You don’t hear about many young people playing around here, but I think a lot of them would like it if they tried.”
Dakota has also played tuba and piano in the past, but now concentrates on bagpipes. He’s performed at the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo and was pipe major for cadets at the Tattoo last year. He’s also played at the Fredericton Highland Games and several competitions. He became pipe major with the Nova Scotia Cadet Band last September, and will be teaching piping at cadet camp in Gagetown during the summer, as well as playing at the tattoo again.
“One of the reasons I like it is because there are solo competitions,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun.
“I didn’t start listening to pipe music until I started playing but now I listen to it a lot.”
History of the bagpipes
It is thought the first pipes came from Egypt, and were further developed in Rome and Greece.
The most well-known is the Highland Bagpipe, but variations of pipes exist around the world.
The playing of the bagpipe was banned in Scotland after the uprising of 1745. They were classified as an instrument of war by the government, and anyone caught playing them could be punished.
Piper James Reid of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s army was executed by hanging at York in 1746 after being found guilty of treason.
He had not carried a weapon but it was stated that, “a Highland Regiment never marched without a piper… therefore, his bagpipe, in the eyes of the law was an instrument of war.”
People continued to play bagpipes in secret, and when the ban was lifted they became very popular.