Pipe Band Wins Big At Competition

Outperforming several other adult bands, the RHS pipe band proudly won first place at the 36th Anniversary of the Southern Maryland Celtic Festival April 26. The event marked the pipe band’s largest win of the year.

Their win will be followed up with the upcoming National Capital Area Scottish Festival. The Scottish Festival is an indoor event that the pipe band has hosted for over 45 years. It is immensely popular, attracting hundreds of visitors each year. Because of the interest in the festival, it has turned into the pipe band’s largest fundraiser.

Irish, Highland and Scottish country dancers performed at the festival along with other metropolitan area pipe and drum bands. There were raffles for different prizes throughout the day and various games and crafts, but the festival kept its focus on the all performers. This year, the Scottish Festival was held May 3 at RHS.

Aside from the Scottish Festival, the pipe band has performed both nationally and internationally. However, the majority of their performances are located in the greater D.C. area. Some of the pipe band’s more famous national events include the world premiere of two movies, “A Bridge Too Far” and “Patton,” as well as performing at the Maryland Governor’s Inauguration in 2004.

The pipe band also participated in the Bicentennial Parade, which was nationally televised, and have performed in numerous concerts at the Kennedy Center. Internationally, the pipe band has completed several tours of Scotland and played in Toronto. “It is always a pleasure to perform with the pipe band,” piping instructor Marti Dillon said. “Being such a unique organization, we are always well-received and it gives me a good feeling.”

Some of the pipe band members have the Scottish heritage their instruments suggest, such as Dillon. Her mother’s side of the family is Scottish, and several of Dillon’s family members have participated in highland dancing, piping and drumming as well. Because of her heritage, bagpiping is an important part of Dillon’s life.

Piper and junior Crista Campbell also has a family that includes Scottish heritage. “My dad was the first to play in our more recent family, as far as I know,” Campbell said. “I have done a few parades and performances, and they are exciting.”

This connection becomes especially important when the band performs at events that celebrate Scottish heritage. Aside from the Southern Maryland Celtic Festival and the Scottish Festival, another important event is the Fairhill Scottish Games. This year, they will be held May 17 at the Fairhill Race Track.

In order to keep up the high quality of their performances, the pipe band practices every Wednesday from 7-9 p.m. The pipe band is divided into groups of tenor/bass, snare and pipe. At the beginning of practice, the band practices in these groups. Performing pipers are in the cafeteria, while drums and beginning pipers work in classrooms on the second floor.

The band practices together in the cafeteria in the second half of their time. “After the music is memorized then it’s most helpful to play as a band to blend the different parts together,” RHS pipe band director Lisa Frazier said.

The performing band is all of the members of the pipe band who participate in festivals, parades and other performances. In order to become a part of the performing band, a student must first memorize enough music and become comfortable playing and marching at the same time.

“To learn to play the bagpipe takes close to a year,” Dillon said. “It is a very rewarding and fun instrument to play- a very worthwhile investment.”

All students grades four and up who want to join the RHS pipe band can contact Ms. Frazier at [email protected]