One of the greatest competitive pipers of his generation, Willie McCallum has decided to commit himself full-time to playing, teaching and furthering the art. On Friday he will leave his career as an accountant at the University of Strathclyde so that he can fulfill more requests for his time as a teacher, recitalist, adjudicator and bagpipe designer.
McCallum decided to pursue an option to work full-time as a piper when the university presented a proposal that made it possible.
“At this stage of my life I decided this was the time to make the jump,” McCallum said. “Over the years I have had to turn down many invitations I would like to have taken up, but the work/piping balance dictated otherwise. I just feel if I didn’t make the change now I may regret it. I think sitting at a desk had run its course for me.”
He stresses that he’s not about to hang up the brogues as a competitor just yet, even though he’s won just about everything there is to win in competitive solo piping – many events several times over.
He was instrumental in the design of the successful McC2 pipe chanter with McCallum Bagpipes of Kilmarnock, Scotland, and his work with the firm will expand as a result of his career shift. Willie McCallum will take a position with the pipe-maker as Product Development Consultant, working with proprietors Stuart McCallum [no relation] and Kenny MacLeod on existing and future products.
“I have every faith from my current involvement with McCallum Bagpipes that as a team we can make minor adjustments in order to make even more outstanding instruments in the future,” McCallum said.
Kenny MacLeod of McCallum Bagpipes added: “We are delighted to have somebody of Willie McCallum’s stature involved with McCallum Bagpipes. I know that Stuart McCallum has found it great working with him in the development of the McC2 pipe chanter and he already has some ideas that we’re sure will be very appealing to the piping world.”
He’ll also work to expand his current business, Willie McCallum Piping, increasing, among other things, the retail side of the business.
The change will mean that McCallum will have more time for workshops and private tuition, taking on more students either in-person or via Skype lessons. He currently teaches several high-profile solo pipers, including Glenn Brown, Peter Hunt, Andrea Boyd and Alasdair Henderson.
McCallum joins a growing list of top-level solo pipers who have decided to turn their piping talent into a full-time career, something that only 20 years ago was a rarity for civilians.