Recently, I had a young student say to me “There are so many bad things in the world that it doesn’t matter what I do, and for every good thing I do there are 1000 bad things to take its place. Everything is useless”. He went on to say “I feel like nothing I do will ever mean anything because I will eventually just die. And nothing I’ve worked hard for will ever matter.” Now, that is some serious Nietzsche for a young kid. Believe it or not, this conversation started by talking about practicing bagpipes. Oh no!
Las Vegas Pipe Band plays the traditional regimental march tune Rowan Tree as the middle in a set of 3 tunes bookended by Scotland The Brave and Wings. It's a beautiful tune and one of the first parade tunes new members learn. We probably play it at least once every practice and I can't think of a time that we didn't start off with a tidbit of historical knowledge or a fun trivia fact about the tune from Max: "Does anyone know what kind of tree the Rowan tree is?" to which the more studious members of the band, or those with decent memories, would reply: "an ash tree." Max would make sure we all knew it was a white ash (or mountain ash) as a matter of fact. Max also told me that the Rowan Tree was thought to ward off evil spirits and witches - so a perfect topic for this time of year!
Wow, what an experience! In April, I had the pleasure and honor to be asked to participate as a bagpipe player in the Virginia International Tattoo with the Wake & District Pipe Band. I arrived to Virginia late on a Saturday and rehearsals began Sunday morning. It was 8 days of craziness from there… an amazing craziness!