September 30, 2008

Scott MacAulay, 1956-2008

We are sad to report that Scott MacAulay died early on the morning of September 10, 2008, after an extended battle with cancer.

The Director and Chief Executive Officer of the College of Piping & Celtic Performing Arts in Summerside, Prince Edward Island, since its inception in 1990, MacAulay was an accomplished Highland piper with numerous top awards to his name, including the Silver Medal and the Open Jig at the Northern Meeting.

In pipe bands he was equally accomplished, having played for many years with the Grade 1 Clan MacFarlane and Erskine bands in the Hamilton, Ontario, area, where Scott MacAulay grew up. Born on December 7, 1956, his parents were from the isle of Lewis in Scotland’s Hebrides, and he was raised in a household that was heavily influenced by the Gaelic language and culture.

He was Pipe-Major of the Grade 1 Dunvegan Pipe Band, a group that lasted only a few years in the 1980s, but which made a significant mark musically.

Over the last 20 years he made a significant mark as a teacher. Among his pupils were accomplished pipers Robert Crabtree and Andrew Hayes.

“I considered Scott to be one of the major influences in my development as both a person and as a piper,” Hayes said. “He was an enthusiastic teacher who shared his knowledge freely, and his love for the music was a constant motivator for both him and his students.”

Known for his larger-than-life-personality and incredibly quick wit, Scott MacAulay was well liked and popular. He fought his illness with quiet determination and positive thinking, keeping his ordeal essentially private. He had sought out experimental treatment that he said extended his life by almost a year.

pipes|drums extends its sympathy to all who knew Scott MacAulay and, most of all, his immediate and extended family.

The funeral will be on Monday, September 15th, at 11:00 am., location to be determined.

The funeral home for visitation:

Moase Funeral Home
150 Summer Street
Summerside, PEI C1N 3J6

The MacAulay family has asked that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to:

The College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts of Canada, Inc.
619 Water Street East
Summerside, Prince Edward Island
C1N 4H8 Canada


  1. This makes me very sad. Scott and I were contemporaries. We came up through the amateur ranks together in southern Ontario in the early 1970s. Our bands competed against each other when he was with Sandy Keith’s Erskine Pipe Band and I was with Ed Neigh’s Guelph Pipe Band. While we didn’t always see eye-to-eye, his physical and musical ability always amazed me and I knew when Scott was at his best in a light music event I could not beat him. His impersonations of prominent pipers playing were creative classics. It’s tragic when the old guard” passes

  2. What a crap day for me, for PEI, for Canada, for the piping world. Scott was unique – uniquely funny, uniquely talented, uniquely motivating. I will never forget many things about him and times with him. The car ride to and from Invergordon games in 1985, Scott playing name that tune” for almost the entire trip; him making fun of a prominent piper’s polka-dot boxers when he accidentally flashed them stepping over the crowd rope; “Spanky Tain.” I was glad to see him last in April 08 in Florida. He seemed like the same Scott with the same great humour

  3. He was the greatest influence on my early piping life. When I was in those early years, 10 to 18, he was king of piping in my world. He made piping so cool. When the Clan” road thru town

  4. What a sad day… I’m half a world away and am struggling so I thought maybe a few stories from the PEI crew was needed. I distinctly remember his very first visit to PEI back in the late 80’s. I was 8, and didn’t have the slightest idea who Scott was. He was in town to run a workshop and (as I later learned) to assess the proposal to create a piping school. All I remember is him making me play through the College of Piping exercise sheet and everytime I made a mistake I had to go back to the very beginning (Those Damn f doublings!!). I can only imagine what he thought that first weekend; Summerside in the winter, ramshackle street band, no strong history of piping… What a surprise when, a few months (or perhaps a year) later he was back again. To be honest, I wasn’t that happy. I hadn’t been practicing my exercise sheet, after all… Next came the little bungalow on water st, HQ for the COP. I have the most vivid memory of being in the little kitchen with Scott, watching as he poured smelly

  5. So sorry to hear the news. I used to marvel at Scott’s piping ability (absolutely effortless with those big hands and great natural flair), and he was always wittyy and helpful. Chris

  6. Another sad day. I watched Scott compete in solos when I was younger, and competed against Dunvegan during its time. Apart from Scott’s amazing playing ability and wit, my two enduring memories (for some reason) are: lending my soaking wet jacket to one of his Dunvegan pipers at Cambridge Gr 1 contest as we marched off the field having completed our contest (he’d forgotten his jacket – always happy to help a fellow competitor…but that sopping mess had to be an awful vestment to put on!), and, as a youngster, watching him at a contest in Detroit at St. Andrews hall. He played his jig, and it got faster. And faster. And faster. And faster. He finally went off the tune to great applause in around the third part. The audacity of playing that fast – everyone loved it. I can still remember that – I thought he was about the coolest thing I’d ever seen. Godspeed, Scott – lots of jigs and reels in heaven, I should imagine.

  7. I heard Scott compete in solos in Scotland and BC, and he was a great player, with lots of style and not a little outward confidence. I remember him marching in the front row of the Clan with a cast on his leg…was that Chicago? And as mentioned by Jim McG, who could forget his impersonations? He and Neil Dickie combined wit/forces at the BC Annual Gathering Ceilidh a couple of years running, and the shows were the highlight of the night as they accurately made fun of a wide range of pipers, bands, pop stars, and each other…all while playing very well together. His piping legacy is obvious, and well-documented. My condolences to his friends and family.

  8. It’s funny, you start reading these things here and there, and you start to remember more. It’s a great shame more people didn’t hear him play. I went to the school as I noted and I only ever heard him play when I was back home in Dunedin. Two things stuck out when he played; 1. His playing looked so effortless, I remember wondering if he even cared, he certainly didn’t look like he did. 2. All anyone said, is you should see him play fast”……. I guess the 146 bpm he was playing reels at wasn’t fast? my bad.”

  9. A sad passing. I remember seeing Scott for the first time, playing at a recital in Chicago sometime in the late 80’s…aside from being amazed at his command of the instrument, I was awestruck by his musicality and confidence. When I heard the Dunvegan’s medley at Barrie-with John Kerr as L/D-I was, once again, knocked out by the creativity and musicianship…out-of-the-box thinking and pure genius. He’ll be missed, and well remembered.

  10. I am very sad to here this news as well, the only thing that came to mind for me in memory of Mr. MacAulay was at the Nicol Brown Contest many years ago, as he was announcing the prizes he stepped back and tripped up the stairs kilt and all flying, I so happened to be in the prize list and my name came up next, after he got composure he said with a huge smile on his face Steven Tripp. well we had lots of laughs about that as you can imagine. It is a sad day for the piping community and I only wish I got to know him better. Our deepest sympathies to Scott and his family and friends. The Tripp Family

  11. Well, the big band in the sky gets another great musician. As we were sitting having dinner in his kitchen last year, you never would have known what he had been through, nor could you tell what was yet to come. The stories from Jim Kilpatrick, John Fisher and Scott kept us entertained until early the next morning. Humour, music, great pipes, he had it all. You’ll be missed Big Friend

  12. A sad day indeed. Even before I played under Scott/Colin in Dunvegan I knew Scott from family get togethers ( Bob-Lo , Detroit and Hamilton) when I was a boy. His father and my maternal grandfather were from the same village in Lewis called Carloway. People talk of his hands his wit and his sense of humour and yes they were all brilliantly and uniquely fast. We piped for dancing together, competed together, even fell out together. He was a great musician and most of all he was definitely his own man. God speed and Rest in Peace Malcolm Kenneth. My deepest condolences to your family, friends and students.

  13. Another huge loss. My condolences to the family and the College. Ace. Scooter. Quick wit, quick hands, and quick work, all in a too quick life. Thanks for it all. Miss you. Robert.

  14. What a sad day for piping. I have very fond memories of Scott and spent several great times with him. I remember in 1983 or thereabouts, he was in St. Louis judging the competition which had been sponsored by Anheuser Busch. Afterwards, we had a concert at Grants Farm on the outskirts of St. Louis. Scott played with the invited group called the Old Triangle. He seamlessly played along with several of their tunes. Afterwards, the lead player told me that Scott was the best musician he had ever heard period. It was a magical night. Scott was always very gracious whenever I ran into him at the games and very helpful with advice. Scott, I will miss you, you were a big influence on me and on the band in St. Louis. Martin Docherty

  15. You know that feeling that you wish you had written or said something and didn’t. A few months ago I felt compelled to write to Scott and I did. I’m sure he wondered….but I so wanted him to know what a selfless dedication he had to his College of Piping. His hard work has ensured the school’s success and he has touched many lives in so many ways in the Piping/Scottish world. What fun for all of us to have known him. He has been quite a part of Piping History and will never be forgotten. Lezlie

  16. I heard about Scott’s passing at band practice tonight. He taught a couple summer schools in Norfolk, Va., in the mid-’90s and made a lot of friends down here, me included. I’ll never forget the first time I heard him play — in a dorm suite at Old Dominion University. It was the first time I ever heard the High A birl — in a version of the Viennese Waltz! Scott was a great player and quite an accomplished composer — the tunes Emily Kate MacLellan, Calum and The Princess, and Paddy’s Epic Journey come immediately to mind — but more importantly, he was a friendly and inspiring teacher. I will never forget the weeks I spent with him and what he did for my piping. Peace be with you, Scott. – Jim Roberts

  17. I was deeply saddened to learn from my good friend Sandy Keith that Scott had passed away. Saddened not for Scott because he has passed on to greater things but saddened for all who new him and will miss him. Even through his illness I found him to be one of the most charismatic and positive people I have ever met who never failed to make you laugh. He has left all of us who new him and considered him a friend with with fond memories and through his great legacy-The College of Piping in PEI,that he was so proud of, and our memories he will live on. My condolences to Scott’s family and the The College. – Gordon Parkes

  18. Since I’m sitting here thinking of the good times we had together, I would like to share a fact not many people would know. Scott won the pole vault contest at Embro.

  19. Very sad news. I spent an evening in Scott’s company in New Zealand several years ago when he was out there doing a recital. The music and the wit were fantastic throughout the entire night.

  20. Tragic news. Scott made a big impression in New Zealand in the 90’s running some excellent summer schools and putting on some fantastic recitals. His passion for teaching and great humour will never be forgotten, and he will be very fondly remembered down under. He was an inspiration. RIP Scott. Stewart McKenzie.

  21. A few years ago I invited Scott to Judge at the Queen Mary. He was a class act, professional and very talented. I was thinking about reaching out to him again to come back when I heard he was sick. I am sure glad that he had a chance to touch the Piping Community here in Southern California.

  22. Sad news. One of the very first professional contests I heard was the 1983 Livingstone Invitational held in Hamilton, ON. I was 11 and I vividly remember Scott’s performance. He looked, and played, larger than life to me. It looked so effortless to him and I was in awe. What I thought was so cool at the time was that he played his own jig ‘Calum and Princess’ and I just thought his fingers looked like lightning. A few years later, I felt so thrilled when Scott gave me a few words of encouragement at some of the games, it meant a lot and I’ve never forgotten that. Rest in peace Scott. Cam

  23. I met Scott MacAulay about 1985 at the Northern Meeting Prizegiving, I was only about 16 or 17. I believe Scott had won the Silver Medal. He took the time to introduce himself and took a genuine interest in what tune I’d won with, who taught me and what area in the Isle of Lewis I came from. He told me his family were from Carloway in Lewis and was obviously very proud of his background. Scott struck me as being a Gentleman, and as a young Piper he made a big impression on me which I’ve never forgotten. Neil Smith

  24. Really saddened to hear of Scott’s passing. I first met Scott when I was up delivering a Piob. workshop in Ottawa in the 80’s, and our friendship grew from there. Blessed with tremendously nimble hands, he also had a great feel for Piobaireachd. His winning Jig performance at Inverness oozed class ~ as only Scott could deliver it. He blew up and his pipe was stunning, no tuning, and straight into a Gaelic Air. Pipe still lovely so made sure he finished the Air center stage & launched straight into his Jig. Breathtaking stuff. He was a true musician, performer, and friend. Murray Henderson.

  25. I met Scott as ambitious, cheeky, young Kiwi at a summer school in the early 90’s. Well I recall Scott appointing me the first morning’s duty Piper at Summer School. (Largely for questioning his stance on slurs) I was in awe of Scott as a person and a teacher, he made learning fun. He filled my head with dreams and, with a word or two of encouragement, wiped away many self-doubts with a couple of positive conversations. If there is a band in the afterlife, I bet Scott will be the guy pestering the PM over the settings of tunes and keeping everyone laughing with impressions, songs or jokes. Scott doesn’t need a memorial, he has a living testament in a generation of Pipers out there that he has influenced to take themselves higher. Long live the kitchen piper. Iain Robertson

  26. So sorry to hear of Scott’s passing. I first met him at the Northern Meeting in the late 80’s and we struck up a friendship which was renewed at Inverness each year. We shared a few nights out and Scott introduced me to my first Indian curry. Truly he was a great player and an inspiritional character. I shall always remember him with a smile. Condolences to Scott’s family. Richard Parkes

  27. I met Scott in the early 1980’s. The blazing fingers, the amazing musicality and that larger than life personality. The piping world has lost a true gem. Rest in Peace Scott. – Rob Menzies

  28. For as long as I can remember, Scott was a major force on the games circuit in the Maritimes. As a judge or spectator, he was always encouraging. Professional when needed, but at the end of the day his laugh could be heard straight across any beer tent. He was a doer, and didn’t sit on the notion of dreaming about something too long before he had it accomplished. While I was attending university, Scott invited me to come over to the COP for Piobaireachd lessons on the weekends. He refused for the entire year to take any payment, rather telling me if I played well that was payment enough. The years have taken me away from the Maritimes now, and I can’t remember a summer without seeing Scott on the field. His absence will be very apparent the next time I’m home for the games. Thank you Scott. Ryan MacDonald

  29. I only met Scott two years ago at the Dunedin FL games. This past year He judged my piob competition. Ever the teacher, he took time afterward to show me how to correct a few mistakes. I will treasure that score sheet, and always remember him fondly. David Rodgers

  30. I first met Scott at the Northern Meetings in Inverness in the mid 1980’s. One of piping’s true characters, Scott had a rare warmth to his personality and he showed a genuine interest in others. I was deeply saddened to learn of his departure. God Bless him.. Andy Young

  31. Scott was someone who knew how to seize the moment. In the late 70’s and early 80’s he would come to come to Long Island to teach the band and assist in our arranging our medley during the day and put on a great recital at night. He dazzled the audience at the first Metro Cup in 1987 ( Babylon AOH Hall ) with his winning performance (Chris Hamilton kindly posted the recording on the Dunsire Forum in his tribute to Scott) but I will always remember his performance at the Metro Cup in the mid 90’s. His pipes were absolutely perfect, his chanter had the crowd mesmerized, and he knew it. As he circled the room he came as close as possible to the adjudicators table and had his chanter singing right in their faces. Many felt that this very bold move would cost him a prize, when he was announced as the winner the room exploded in applause.

  32. I first met Scott in the 80’s. I do believe I was standing at Dad’s left hand side holding his briefcase at the time! The craic was good, the times were fun, I remember very fondly those days and Scott was a big part of that time for me. Very sad to hear of his passing.



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