Doctors of Piping II, Part 1 – we reconvene four accomplished piper-physicians to discuss the pandemic
We held the first pipes|drums Doctors of Piping video forum already more than eight months ago, in December 2020. So much has changed since then, so we thought it was time to reconvene four of the most accomplished piper-medical doctors to consider where we’ve been, where we are today, and what’s on the horizon regarding all things related to the coronavirus pandemic and the piping and drumming world.
Our esteemed panel:
Dr. Lachie Dick – when we spoke with him last November, Dr. Dick was working in Montrose, Scotland. He has since taken a role at Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy, Fife, as he climbs the ladder of Scotland’s National Health Service as ST3 in General Surgery. As a piper, he’s one of the world’s best, currently competing successfully in solo competitions. Lachie Dick has played with several bands, including a stint as pipe-major of the Grade 2 City of Edinburgh in the city where he resides.
Dr. Martin Docherty – home from Kuwait only last week after his incredible eighteenth tour of duty as a trauma surgeon as a colonel in the United States Army, Dr. Docherty is a native of Edinburgh and lives in Mississippi in between his military service. Docherty has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, treating and often saving the lives of countless military personnel and civilians over the last 25 years. He was a piper with the Grade 1 bands Bilston Glen and the 153 TA Regiment in the 1970s and ’80s, and, after immigrating to the US, has been a member of several bands, mainly in the St. Louis area.
Dr. James Feeney – a past piper with the Grade 1 78th Fraser Highlanders, Parlin & District Oran Mor, and New York Metro, and currently the pipe-major of the Talcott Mountain Highlanders, a youth band with about 25 members, Dr. Feeney was the Director of Trauma & Acute Care Surgery, Mid-Hudson Regional Hospital at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, New York, when we spoke with him in November. He recently accepted a new position as Director of Trauma & Acute Care Surgery at Westchester Medical Center in Massachusetts, and at the end of August 2021 will ship out as part of his service with the United States Navy to a teaching role in 29 Palms, California.
Dr. Robert Gray – a former long-serving piper with the Grade 1 Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia in Scotland, Dr. Gray is Lecturer and Honorary Consultant Physician at University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Inflammation Research, Queen’s Medical Research Institute. An accomplished solo piping competitor, he served as president of the Competing Pipers Association in the 2010s. Robert Gray lives in Edinburgh.
Since November, vaccines have rolled out worldwide. Due primarily to strong uptake of vaccinations and adherence to health and safety measures, Scotland has done well to control COVID-19. The Piping Live! Festival had just wrapped up, and more in-person piping and drumming events are on the horizon, as the country looks forward, with fingers crossed, to the possibility of a full pipe band season in 2022.
The United States and Canada, meanwhile, have a less unified status, with vaccine acceptance and participation varying state to state, province to province. Of piping and drumming-rich countries, New Zealand and Australia have probably fared best, but outbreaks in Sydney, Melbourne and other areas continue to disrupt everyday life. New Zealand has continued with in-person pipe band and solo piping competitions.
The success of online competitions, gatherings and workshops over the last 18 months has ushered in alternative ways to satisfy our desire to compete and learn. Most associations worldwide have introduced online contests, some even with full “seasons” of successive events experience strong participation.
During the discussion, the topic of associations making recommendations or policies regarding vaccinations was raised, specifically the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association. We did not know the status of the RSPBA’s decisions on the matter, so we asked the organization’s executive office and chair, but so far we have received no response.
It is a good time to check in with our panel. We found the two-part conversation interesting, enlightening and educational, and we hope you do, too.
As always, your thoughts are welcomed, so please feel free to use our Comments feature to let your insights and opinions be heard.
Stay tuned to pipes|drums for “Doctors of Piping II, Part 2.”