Let me give you some background. I am a highland drummer. In my 16 years as a musician, I never thought I would add ‘highland drummer’ to my musical resume. You see, I am a classically trained percussionist. I have played professionally with symphonies, concert bands, and for various Broadway musicals.
It all happened almost exactly 3 years ago. My family had just recently relocated to Ohio from Missouri and we were watching the Dublin, Ohio 4th of July parade. Towards the middle of the parade, a pipe band marched past us. It was the Capital City Pipes and Drums.
My internal dialog immediately started to chat up a storm. ‘You know, I’ve always been fascinated with bagpipes and pipe bands.’ ‘I am of Scottish heritage, why not embrace it.’ My wife, being ever being so support and knows what I’m thinking 24/7, turns to me and says, ‘You need to do that! You need to join that pipe band.’ A few days later, I’m sitting at my very first rehearsal, learning to be a highland drummer and I was hooked!
What is the #PipeBandLife? It is a concept and/or way of life that revolves around being in and playing in a pipe band. Like my little story above, we pipers and drummers all have stories that tells the tale of when the wonderful world of pipe band has entered and has become a part of our lives. It is a lifestyle, and believe it or not, it was a bit of a culture shock for me.
Let me explain. #PipeBandLife is its own sub-culture. We have our own language, social habits, music, and AMAZING apparel. It took me some time to get use to this newfound experience.
Language: The language is what I compare to Jazz Scatting. Ever listen to Louis Armstrong? Ella Fitzgerald? Well, Pipe Majors, Pipers, and even drummers scat and hum out tunes as we begin to play. It’s how we get the tune we are about to play in our head and get everyone focused. Even my kids are now humming pipe tunes around the house. We have our own terms and sayings: Chanter, Pad, Taorluath, Set, Dot and Cut, Chips, By the Right, and many more. These are musical terms, commands, and instrument parts that describe and express.
Social Habits: Our social habits are what we do before, during, and after we perform or at a rehearsal. Pipers and drummers need to warm up and get ready, then play some tunes, drink at the Beer Tent, repeat.
Music: This one is a no-brainer. We pipers and drummers (yes, we DO get along, most of the time) share a common bond. The music from the Great Highland Bagpipes and from the drum corps is what we play and try to play well.
Clothing: Our apparel is pretty sweet. We get to don our pipe band’s tartan and wear it proudly. Kilts, plaids, hose, ghillie brogues, Glengarries, and on and on..
#PipeBandLife is all about community. Sure, like most societies and cultures, there will be rivalries and bands that don’t get along too well with other bands. However, by the end of the day, I would like to think that all pipers and drummers share a passion and a love for music and our art. That’s why I love and enjoying playing in mass bands, even if I’m at a games solo competing, a band always welcomes me to join their ranks and play.
The best moment is when I went and competed with my pipe band at the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow last August. There were 230 bands from 16 countries competing that weekend!
Like all Highland Games closing ceremonies, there were massed bands.
And there we all were, marching alongside one another, playing by each other’s side. Why?
Because is the #PipeBandLife, then we retired to the Beer Tent.
I am a professional Percussionist. I am classically trained, where I studied at Missouri Western State University, but I owe the majority of my music career and influence to my father, Bob Cochran. I have played and performed with various groups and people. Some groups include: The Columbus Symphony Orchestra, The Liberty Symphony Orchestra, The Dublin Wind Symphony, The Dublin Silver Band, The Marion Palace Theatre, and Capital City Pipes and Drums. I am a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia of America, a social music Fraternity.
Currently I am lead stick of Capital City Pipes and Drums in Columbus, OH and competing solo as a Grade 4 Sr., hoping to level up to Grade 3 by the end of this season. I am studying Highland drumming privately with Alex Wright.